Review: ‘A Green River’ displays the mind of a solider suffering from PTSD


Photo byCam Best. Erik White chokes his pregnant wife, Amy, in this play about post-traumatic stress disorder.

If there were ever a play that would be able to capture what it is like to be in the mind of a solider suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, it would be Aaron Randolph III’s “A Green River.”
Told through the mind of Erik, a solider who recently returned from war, the play is performed by telling the story of his life out of order so that it really puts the audience into the fragmented mindset of soldiers suffering from PTSD.
There is one more performance today at 1:30 p.m. in Potter Theatre. Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for students, faculty and staff.
Throughout the play, Erik returns to the site of a green river with his father, brother and wife. Eventually, it becomes one of the only places that is truly quiet for Erik.
Throughout the play, there would be two scenes going at once, only adding to Erik’s frustration that helps explain why his rage manifests itself. The actors of Erik’s father, mother, brother, sergeant, counselor and fallen friend would often speak to Erik as though they were voices in his head all the time that captures the idea that soldiers never forget the battles.
Quad Cities local Thomas Alan Taylor played Erik. His seamless ability to switch scenes from playing an older Erik who has PTSD one minute to a younger Erik attempting to learn how to play football the next really enhanced the play, making it just as hard for the audience to get inside Erik’s head as it is for him to.
“A Green River” did a marvelous job of telling the story, not just from the perspective of a solider, but also from the perspective of that soldier’s spouse. The play also highlighted the relationship between Erik and his wife, Amy, played by senior Elyssa LeMay. Showing their entire history together from a very young age, the audience could follow along with the heartbreak as Amy slowly realized the large toll being in the army had taken on her husband. LeMay and Taylor both had real chemistry onstage that only enhanced the play’s tragic ending.
Along with placing the audience inside the head of Erik, using lights, sounds and even a few explosions, director Philip Wm. McKinley was also able to successfully put the audience onto the battlefield with Erik.
While the play has yet to be performed anywhere else other then at the Quad City Theatre Workshop and Augustana College, I doubt this will be the last the world will be seeing of Erik.