REVIEW by Willard Manus

FLAGS, in its West Coast premiere at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, is a bold, tough play about the effect the Iraqi War has on an American family. Written by Jane Martin, directed by Jenny Sullivan and acted by a stellar cast headed by Chris Mulkey and Karen Landry, FLAGS isn't just an anti-war drama but a scathing portrait of American society today.

Mulkey plays Eddie Desmopoulis, a hot-headed, stubborn working-class guy who didn't object when his favorite son joined the army and went off to fight as a tank commander. Eddie thought the war was justified--until his son's term of duty was extended and he died ignominiously, not in battle but on garbage duty. Eddie protests his death by hanging the American flag upside down outside his home.

That brings down the wrath of the community on him. It's man against power, against the fanaticism and intolerance that permeates so much of our society today. The conflict makes for gripping drama, a tragedy of classical proportions. (Call 310-477-2055 or odysseytheatre.com)