Review | ‘Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret’

Ret. Lt. Col. Scott Mann’s Play Addresses Saying Goodbye

Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret | Credit: Courtesy

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Ret. Lt. Col. Scott Mann has reinvented himself after life in the military as a writer, performer, storyteller, and activist for veteran care. After a quarter century of overseas service, Mann returned to civilian life and began writing Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret as a creative outlet to aid in his own healing. The story of soldier Danny Patton (played by Mann) killed in action in Afghanistan, Last Out is about the difficulty of saying goodbye and letting go. This struggle is seen on both sides of the world — Patton, dying in Afghanistan, is unwilling to give up the fight he’s dedicated his life to while his family, who has lived in fear of his death, manage the anger and sadness left in his void. 

Featuring Ame Livingston (who also directs), and veterans/actors Bryan Bachman and Len Bruce, this production is created and performed by veterans who have experienced combat and reintroduction into American society. To the civilians in the audience untouched by the hardships of war, Last Out shows the toll of deployment on military families, and the difficulty of the double life lived by service people, who move between warzones that have molded their identities and cozy, American comfort. A new conflict emerges from this transition — the fight against PTSD and the search for meaning after the return from war. 

Last Out packs into a U-Haul and has been rolling around the country on tour to reach as many veterans as possible. It builds into a tight, practical set with sound and lights that shake the theater with the intensity of a combat zone. The script touches on the complexities of the American war machine and brings a disheartening statistic to the fore: American ex-military are dying at a rate of 22 suicides a day. An intimate talkback with the cast after show elucidates further the paramount importance of reintroducing returning troops to civilian life in a way that allows them to develop the identity and purpose they had during war. 

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