When an upcoming production, film or book about the war in Afghanistan is released, it’s typical to expect a barrage of thinly veiled political statements. “Basetrack Live,” however, takes a different and quite refreshing approach in its exploration of war and how it affects those directly and indirectly involved.
At its core, “Basetrack Live” is about the human cost of war. Recently, it seems that mainstream media has dealt with this topic more and more, following the soldiers who fight the war rather than the people who command them. However, “Basetrack Live” promotes this message by allowing its audience to be fully immersed in the action rather than spectate from their seats.
The production uses a multimedia style to tell the story of AJ Czubai, a Marine in the 1st Battalion 8th Marines during the Afghanistan war in 2010. Czubai, played by Tyler La Marr, tells stories from his time spent in the Marines with a mix of charm and gritty realism. The stories range from comedic anecdotes one might hear from a stranger in a bar to shocking moments of vulnerability.
The multimedia style is truly the brilliance of “Basetrack Live.” While Czubai’s character leads the audience through the world of a Marine in the Middle East, the stage itself shifts and conforms to different environments to allow the audience to feel like they are actually there.
At first glance, most scenes feel very chaotic, but, as they progress and develop, we see how every nuance and detail is strategically designed to craft a world from the perspective of the Marines. There are moments toward the end when it becomes more dramatic and feels like a conventional play, but these moments are rare in the first half.
For example, there is a moment in the production when the musicians become the focus of the stage and begin to play a song reminiscent of rap-rock from the mid 2000s. The pictures and video clips show traditional war images that appear and disappear, emulating a stream of consciousness. While all of this is going on, Czubai sits on the corner of the stage with dim light wearing a pair of headphones. Just this minor detail ties the whole scene together. The scene is not just music set to pictures but rather a very realistic picture of what a Marine would probably be doing before going on a mission.
This scene showcases perhaps the most engaging part of “Basetrack Live”: the soundscape. The electro-acoustic instrumentation is composed of a violin, a cello, a drumset, and a DJ who occasionally plays trumpet. The music goes from surreal and sensational to calm and heartfelt effortlessly. The electronic element also allows the musicians to create the most incredible sounds. It’s hard to believe how much of the soundscape and musical score is being produced on the spot.
“Basetrack Live” is gritty, emotional, engaging and most of all, hopeful.