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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to update a decades-old play to better suit modern sensibilities, perhaps by altering dialogue or plot details; adding flash without substance to titillate a video-soaked audience, however, insults both the viewers and the playwright. The American Century Theater and the Washington Jewish Theatre’s joint production of Home of the Brave, Arthur Laurents’ 1945 World War II drama, is to be commended for not simply being another rah-rah push for patriotism in these yay-America! days, but it fails to avoid the technology trap. Focusing on one man’s shell shock after experiencing both death and anti-Semitism in battle, director Benjamin Fishman projects murky, David Lynch-ian images of night combat and bloodied faces behind re-enacting characters whenever the soldier, Coney (Michael Laurino), retreats into the similarly cloudy recesses of his mind; the action shifts back and forth between his time in the South Pacific and subsequent therapy with an Army psychiatrist to cure his psychosomatic paralysis. The very muddiness of the video projection, instead of evoking a dreamlike state as intended, serves only to drive the audience to what-the-hell? distraction and lessens the power of this poignant work. The intensity of the decisions these men must make together—whether to volunteer for an important but dangerous mission, accepting that sometimes the sacrifice of one of their own is imperative to maintain the safety of others—needs no bells and whistles for emphasis. Marc A. Wright’s set is wisely simple, with a few scattered levels efficiently serving as bed, foxholes, or just something for an actor to elevate himself on to better make a point. Home of the Brave moves briskly thanks to the believable camaraderie among Jon Cohn, Tim Getman, Richard J. Price, and Arthur J.G. Rosenberg as Coney’s brothers in arms, and Laurino’s portrayal of the alternately sane and broken Coney is an impressive realization of the different personalities that can live in one body, though his mental patient is sometimes quivery to the point of comic effect. In the end, the fact that Coney’s a Jew is a small matter compared with the other harrowing experiences the war thrust upon this intelligent 20-something, and no background movie is necessary for an audience to understand that. —Tricia Olszewski