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Understanding Ourselves Through APT's 'Heroes

Jul. 3, 2012
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We all carry wounds, real or imagined, that shape our lives and determine our destinies. The three characters in Heroes, currently running in the Touchstone Theatre on the American Players Theatre's Spring Green campus, have some very real wounds. How they cope with their past experiences says a lot about them, as well as the world that has left them behind.

Three World War I veterans spend their days occupying the back terrace of a veterans' home in Gerald Sibleyras' 80-minute play. Henri (Paul Bentzen) lost part of a leg, but doesn't let that stop him from daily walks through the neighboring village. Philippe (John Lister) still carries shrapnel, which causes paranoia and blackouts. Gustave (Jonathan Smoots), a former officer now “tolerably deranged,” is critical of the world and its occupants, yet is unable to leave the terrace other than for his own room. A concrete statue of a greyhound, a terrace fixture, rounds out the group.

Despite their infirmities, the men find humor and hope in each other, focusing on a distant stand of poplars and a wing of migrating geese as unattainable symbols of freedom. Strong performances enable the actors to fully inhabit their roles, with each in his own way revealing the bravado and insecurities that characterize us all. Director James Bohnen draws the best from his cast, which includes occasional silent appearances by Breana Jarvis as Sister Bernadette.

In the end, even the greyhound makes a statement; collectively, all of them help us better understand the characters and ourselves.

American Players Theatre's production of
Heroes continues through Sept. 27. For ticket information, call 608-588-2361 or visit americanplayers.org.


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