Jessica Goldberg's thought-provoking drama explores the ugly cost of our war in Iraq, opening with a short but haunting scene at Walter Reed Hospital, where a crippled, blindfolded soldier (Jeremy Maxwell) is feebly trying to rap about his battlefield experiences as a means of catharsis. We then meet Wendy (Kristina Lear), an idealistic, antiwar screenwriter whose trip to the hospital to gather research about wounded soldiers is blocked by Capt. Gray Whitrock (Michael James Reed). The captain, a spit-and-polish military man, is a staunch conservative with a palpable disdain for “Hollywood liberals” and a battlefield injury (a prosthetic foot) he proudly boasts of. The pair engage in a spirited debate about the war, bringing the passions and commitments — as well as their frailties — these characters possess into sharp relief. Eventually, Wendy’s persistence is rewarded but not before she uncovers a painful-to-observe fault line in the relationship between Whitrock and his doting, pregnant wife, Lydia (Samantha Shelton). Goldberg’s characters possess a poignant simplicity and honesty that are skillfully blended with haunting psychological complexity. This makes judging them difficult, regardless of one’s feeling about the war. Chris Field directs with intelligence and draws fine performances from this cast, which includes Jeremy Maxwell as a bottom-line movie exec.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: July 26. Continues through Aug. 24, 2008

LA Weekly