Posted in Iraq, mercenaries, torture, war

"On The Head Of A Pin" Covers War’s Ugly Underbelly

L-R: Emily Fleischer and Jen Tullock in ON THE HEAD OF A PIN at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Hunter Canning
There were plenty of historical precedents for the use of paramilitary reinforcements before Bush the younger sent two hired guns for every soldier into Iraq. It’s true that most of those did not involve using private companies  to run operations in hot zones, but as long as there have been wars, there have been combatants whose allegiance to the cause was strictly for pay.
L-R: Will Gallacher, Sofia Lauwers, and Devin Dunne Cannon in ON THE HEAD OF A PIN at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Hunter Cannon

Mercenary corporations treat both their own personnel and combatants cavalierly. In “On The Head Of A Pin,” in a Strangemen & Co. production at 59E59 Theaters through March 10, their actions fall under the scrutiny of an intrepid reporter. Lily Strauss (Sofia Lauwers) lost her job and reputation making allegations against them, but this time she has proof that Caliban,  the company authorized to send Arab-speakers to interrogate prisoners, is involved in ugly dealings in Iraq.

L-R: Sofia Lauwers and Jason Ralph in ON THE HEAD OF A PIN at
59E59 Theaters. Photo by Hunter Canning

Chris Conrad (Jason Ralph), Caliban’s head of HR, doesn’t look too closely at Sarah Kennedy’s (Emily Fleischer) motives when he  sends her to an Iraqi prison despite the fact that he wonders why a newly wed wants to go so far away from her husband. Her boss, Kathleen Crane (Jen Tullock) browbeats her into forcing confessions. Sarah’s only ally in her new job is a soldier named Russell Clark (Marcus Callender) whose offer of help to her goes very much awry.
Frank Winters’ “On The Head of a Pin” is deeply earnest even when it’s funny.  From Gwen (Devin Dunne Cannon), the news intern who assists Lily in her expose to the interim editor, Jon Lowe (James Ortiz), the characters are all dedicated and righteous.  Sadly, sincerity is not enough to make a drama work, even one that is as hard-working as this one. 

For more information about “On The Head of a Pin,” please visit


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