(Celia Wren’s review of Heroes appeared in the Washington Post, 5/1/09.)

Compact 'Heroes' Packs Quite a Dramatic Punch


Three old geezers frittering away the hours in a retirement facility. That might not sound like a gripping dramatic scenario, but it's hard to tear yourself away from the MetroStage production of "Heroes," French dramatist Gérald Sibleyras's bittersweet portrait of querulous, loafing World War I veterans.

Displaying spot-on timing, three expert actors mine the humor, tension and wistful profundity in this 80-minute piece, which has been translated into pellucid English by no less a luminary than Tom Stoppard. The narrative may begin and end in rambling talk, and the comedy often cedes to bare-ruined-choirs pensiveness, but "Heroes" — confidently directed by John Vreeke — hooks you more surely than many a play that has a taut, flashy story line.

First presented in Paris in 2003 — and, in Stoppard's version, subsequently mounted in London (where it nabbed the 2006 Laurence Olivier Award for best new comedy) — Sibleyras's play takes place on the terrace of an old soldiers' home. MetroStage set designer Colin K. Bills renders a poetic configuration of bench, flagstones and green-gray wall, guarded by a statue of a wolfhound . . .

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