Theater Review: ‘Twist, Pull, Smoke, Run Motherf****r – Run’

Ben Miles

What’s more profane than war?  As candid as William Tecumseh Sherman’s description of war is – the Union Civil War General declaimed “War is hell” –  today it seems a relatively pedestrian appraisal of warfare. The hell of war, the trauma of battle, lives on in the minds and bodies of those who are subjected to it. In General Sherman’s day the after affect of soldiers’ battle scarred psyches was referred to as  “soldier’s heart” or “irritable heart”; those symptoms were called “shell shock” for World War One veterans; after World War Two the condition was identified as “combat fatigue.” Since the Vietnam War the malady is now identified by a medical diagnosis – PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The effects of PTSD are explored in a play by Matthew Domenico  (co-written with Katherine Connor Duff) – based on interviews Domenico conducted with two U.S Marines he served with in Afghanistan. The play is titled “Twist, Pull, Smoke, Run Motherf****r – Run,” and is on stage at Fullerton’s Maverick Theater through April 7. Swiftly directed by Ryan Knight (and produced by Foxhole Theatre Company), and starring both Domenico and Duff as Adam and Leah, respectively. Leah’s an aspiring artist and Adam is regrouping as a student, supported by his G.I. benefits granted for his service in America’s longest war. Together they have entered a romantic (live-in) relationship. As loving as their rapport appears to be, Leah is alarmed by the mysterious side of himself that Adam resist disclosing to her or to anyone else.

There’s one another entity that stands between Adam and Leah, that is Adam’s haunting memory of T-Dog (intensely embodied by Brock Joseph) one of several Marines killed in the Afghan war and for whom Adam feels guilty and responsible for actions he took that resulted in the loss of T-Dog and the other warriors.

With riveting physical action that betrays the profound psychological  wounds of war, we in the audience become engrossed in the conflict that is not only dramatic but as relevant as today’s breaking news. The setting is in present time, in a New York City apartment, but the depth and scope of the issues addressed are transcendent –  crossing from current events to the maladies soldiers have carried for time immemorial. In a mere 75 minutes (with no intermission) we come to empathize with Adam’s nightmarish plight, and by extension to all veterans who carry the cost of our country’s wars. For mature audiences.

Performances of “Twist, Pull, Smoke, Run Motherf****r—Run” are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. On Sundays the performance is at 6 p.m. For reservations call (714) 526-7070. For online ticketing and further information visit


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