Wednesday, November 4, 2020

371. ONCE I SAW A BOY LAUGHING . . . From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Scott Mansfield, Jerry Plummer Chesnut. 
ONCE I SAW A BOY LAUGHING . . . [Drama/Military/War] A: Scott Mansfield; D: Gail Mansfield; S: David Chapman; C: Ann Kelleher; L: Martin Aronstein; P: Lawrence E. Davis i/a/w Jolandrea Productions, Inc.; T: Westside Theatre (OB); 2/21/74-2/24/74 (5)

A poorly written drama (with music) about a half-dozen GIs cornered in a jungle hut (“on a piece of land in nowhere . . .”) who are killed violently one by one until only a single soldier remains alive. That soldier was played by the author, whose sister directed the play.

Despite the intensity of the situation, the work seemed plotless and lacking character development. The dialogue offered little more than wisecracks. A number of songs were interpolated into the action. Russ Thacker was the best-known of the six actors trapped in this quagmire.

Clive Barnes disparaged the script, approved the set, and accepted the acting. He concluded, “this is a patrol that can only be regarded as missing.”