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Intimate, funny, and fierce, Last of the Boys by renowned local playwright Steven Dietz is the story of Vietnam War vet Ben and his battle with the ghosts of his past. In the stark beauty of California’s Central Valley, Ben’s ghosts are suddenly made flesh when his unpredictable war buddy Jeeter shows up and old wounds are peeled back open. (Alabastro Photography/Seattle Rep)

Talking with the stars of Seattle Rep's 'Last of the Boys'

The play "Last of the Boys" is set outside a trailer in modern America - but the characters are still living in the fallout of the Vietnam War.

"It's a friendship play, and a bit of a father-son play," said Reginald Andre Jackson.

Jackson is 'Ben' in the play, and Kevin Anderson is his friend 'Jeeter'.

"Ben has isolated himself in a trailer on a dubious campsite," said Jackson. "And Jeeter keeps bringing the world to him every summer."

"It's sort of sparked off by this character Ben's father has died," said Anderson. "And I've gone to the funeral thinking he would be there and he isn't."

Ben has made a pretty conscious decision to shut himself off, both from his family and from the war.

"To some extent the play is about denial and culpability," said Jackson.

"Jeeter - he's sort of the agitator," said Anderson. "I mean, he comes in and kind of pries open a lot of stuff. I think it's not only for the purpose of the play - although, that's part of it - but I think the relationship is that. I think a lot of it too is he loves Ben tremendously, and sees him so isolated and wants to, you know, help in some way."

The legacy of the war looms large in "The Last of the Boys".

"Reggie beings up a good point - that there's a whole other big picture story going on with the Vietnam War and the McNamara era," said Anderson.

It's heavy stuff, but there's plenty of levity too - thanks to a script by Seattle native Stephen Dietz.

"This play is a comedy - until it isn't," said Anderson. "And that's very true - because in the first scene you think these two old guys, you know, joking around, a lot of funny dialogue. And then suddenly, you know, shoe drops and then something serious happens."

The actors have done a ton of plays, but Anderson calls this on a great American play. Jackson hopes the audience sees the parallels to current events.

"I relate today in our social-political climate, helps me relate to Ben," he said. "That idea that I just want to go and be on my mountain somewhere and sort of ignore what's going on. But this play makes you look at what happens when you try to deny things, when you try to brush them under and you ignore them. And there are serious consequences."

"Last of the Boys" by Steven Dietz is onstage at Seattle Rep's Bagley Wright Theatre from January 18 – February 10, 2019.