Nice Things' Rebekah Tripp and Melanie Lyons
Nice Things' Rebekah Tripp and Melanie Lyons
Photo by John Flynn

A Play That Brings the War in Afghanistan Home

There are certain subjects that somehow seem beyond the naturalistic reach of the venerable problem play. Like the one addressed by playwright Vince Melocchi’s well-meaning world premiere Nice Things: that epic geopolitical theater of the absurd known as the War in Afghanistan.

To his credit, Melocchi doesn’t take on the whole Tolstoyan scope of the 13-year conflict, merely its destructive impact on two couples from a working-class community in Pittsburgh.

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Amy (Connor Kelly-Eiding) has lost both her fiancé-soldier Danny, killed by an insurgent bomb, and the service benefits that promised to provide their ticket out of low-wage poverty. The war has cost Afghan veteran Bobbie Jo (the fine Rebekah Tripp) — a National Guard sergeant and Danny's recruiter — her peace of mind, and now threatens her relationship with her girlfriend Sandy (Melanie Lyons).

Director Elina de Santos turns in a polished production (on Sephanie Kerley Schwartz’s sleek, sliding-panel set), but the play’s meandering pace and easy affirmations undercut both the energy and the urgency of Melocchi’s message — namely, how the basic struggle for economic survival can bring home the distant tragedy of foreign war.

Rogue Machine, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through Nov. 23. (855) 585-5185, roguemachinetheatre.com.

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