by Beki Pineda

PAPER CUT – Written by Andrew Rosendorf; Directed by Pesha Rudnick. Produced by Local Theater Company (Presented at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut) through November 11. Tickets available at 303-444-7328 or thedairy.org.

First off, I’d like to congratulate Scenic Designer Susan Crabtree, Lighting Designer Jacob Welch, and Sound Designer Jason Ducat for the environment they created for the actors in this searing drama. Crabtree’s design flowed smoothly from the battlefield to urban settings and back again. The dusty brown paint treatment fit the grim Middle East locale as well as the depressing life awaiting these soldiers at home. Welch’s lighting illuminated a PTSD episode brought on by fireworks, added an icy element to the cold desert night, and created the mood for introspection and the mental confusion brought on by a soldier’s experiences. The battle scenes and return to the shore were enhanced by Ducat’s realistic soundtrack. Add the projections designed by Gregory Towle for a final touch, giving these actors the support they needed to tell this compelling story.

Rosendorf’s script follows Kyle, a soldier who served in the Middle East, from the battlefield to rehab. His return to civilian life is complicated by his battle injuries and his memories, both good and bad, of military life. We are allowed to watch the sweet and funny wartime romance develop from a flirtation to a deep and committed relationship between Kyle and Chuck, a fellow soldier. They are separated by Kyle’s injuries which send him home to undergo surgery, rehab and finally re-introduction into civilian life. Ready or not, here he comes.

Kyle has been estranged from his brother Jack for years because of the way their brutal father pitted them against each other. Now they have a second chance to support each other. A third character enters Kyle’s life through social media. Harry, a totally clueless former classmate of Kyle’s, tracks him down on line and tries to instigate a romance. His guileless come-on and innocent (but almost stupid) lack of knowledge about what Kyle has been through unfortunately seems to represent the general public in dealing with returning wounded warriors. There is no way to gauge the depth of experience they have had and how they have had to change in order to survive. We only make fools of ourselves in trying. When Chuck re-enters Kyle’s life, hard decisions must be made.

This quartet of actors tells a somewhat complicated story with clarity. New York actors Sommer Carbuccia and Eddie Sanchez came to Boulder to portray the brothers Kyle and Jack. What a miracle for Local to have found an actor whose every physical aspect fits the needs of Kyle’s character, especially an actor as talented as Carbuccia. The range of emotions required for this role is astounding and he rises to the occasion on every front, bringing us the tired and scared soldier to the tender lover. He endures pain, bares his soul, stands up for himself and displays his vulnerability, all within the course of about ninety minutes. Sanchez also gives an earnest performance as a confused but caring brother who has to forget what has gone under the bridge in order to support the returning soldier.

They are ably supported by local actors Zachary Andrews as Chuck and John Hauser as Harry. Chuck is a cocky, funny comrade in arms whose love for Kyle grows slowly in this military setting.  He proves to be a true friend unable to complete a wartime pact made between the two. John’s Harry is almost comic relief for the story of this returning soldier. He is goofy, clueless but bold in his pursuit of a new and different relationship. But you know what they say about when the going gets tough . . . .

Realizing that this description of the script is somewhat sketchy, please also realize that’s because this is such an interesting story told in such a meaningful, compelling way, that I don’t want to reveal all the hidden nuggets that are slowly revealed in the telling. You deserve to see the story through your own eyes for the first time without having a synopsis to guide you through this battlefield of emotion. Rosendorf’s script is tough, realistic, and authentic. He makes brilliant use of silence between his characters, allowing the dialogue to build in their eyes and the back of their throats before being spoken. You quickly grow to care for what happens to Kyle and to understand that his “recovery” may get more complete but that it will never be over. Director Pesha Rudnick took this script and these actors and brought it all to life. It is a play that will resonate in your memory for months to come.

A WOW factor of 9!!