April 5, 2015

Young Marines traumatized by war fit uneasily back into sitcom-sunny American life in Rehana Lew Mirza’s “Soldier X,” a new play shaped by its unwieldy to-do list of concerns. Military rape, post-traumatic stress disorder, prejudice against Muslims and other minorities, the petty indignities of serving the United States as part of a volunteer military: Ms. Mirza’s play educates its audience about each of these. No character is older than 25; all grew up as part of a nation engaged in distant wars. “Soldier X” means to address the domestic fallout, but its didacticism makes drama elusive. So does an uncomfortable mix of tones in this production, directed by Lucie Tiberghien for Ma-Yi Theater Company at Here. At a Marine base in Southern California, Lance Cpl. Downey (Carolyn Michelle Smith) radiates stone-cold fury in compulsory counseling sessions with a young military social worker (Kaliswa Brewster) who has never been in a war zone. Downey has been; a trusted colleague raped her in Afghanistan, and now she’s started cutting herself.