Bekah Brunstetter’s new drama Oohrah! offers at least one innovation. Though a rifle is introduced in the second act, no one expires from a gunshot—or even suffers a flesh wound. This should not suggest that Brunstetter plays nice: Her attitude toward her characters too often favors contempt over sympathy.
Oohrah! concerns two sisters—Sara (Jennifer Mudge), a housewife, and Abby (a winning Cassie Beck), a flighty stewardess—and the military men who preoccupy them. Sara wants her soldier husband to leave the army; Abby longs to ditch her civilian fiancé (a delightful Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) for a man in Marine blues. Brunstetter writes funny, lively dialogue (some of Abby’s musings verge on the pleasantly absurd), but she has a tendency to censure her character’s tastes and choices, like Sara’s plastic wine glasses or the White Zinfandel Abby drinks from them. This derisive stance and Evan Cabnet’s broad, slapdash direction transform what might have been an intoxicating comedy into something more unhappy and acrid.
Apparently, Brunstetter hails from a background similar to the sisters. In a recent Vogue interview, she insisted, “I want audiences to watch the play and see people—not dumb Southerners or crazy soldiers—just people.” Tell it to the Marines.