(L to R) Erika Lynnette Baker, Logan Black. Photo by Cynthia Levin

In the past decade or so, more attention has been paid to the problem of PTSD in returning war veterans. There has been recognition that it is a real issue, and attempts to help soldiers who can psychologically never totally come home from war.

The Unicorn’s current show, Bond explores that issue, but from a perspective that is rarely seen – a combat veteran searching for land mines with a K9 dog companion. It’s a compelling true story that must be experienced in order to fully appreciate.

Logan Black is an Iraqi vet who began to use the theater to deal with his war experiences. He developed a short one-man show that was shown in festivals in previous years. But now, he has developed it into a full length play, in which he recounts his relationship with Diego, his search dog.

Bond is only technically a play. It is more of a collection of memories that Black shares with us. Relives with us may be a better description. He may have been trained as a soldier, but he’s a damn good storyteller/actor, as well. His stories range from cute to interesting to funny to horrific. Long brings to life the quirks of the dog and his own reaction to death.

(L to R) Logan Black, Erika Lynnette Baker. Photo by Cynthia Levin

Since Diego is as much of a character as Black in this show, he had to be part of the show. So a collaboration was started with Mesner Puppet Theater to create Diego. Diego is handled by Erika Lynnette Baker, an amazing puppeteer. Even though she is on stage bringing Diego to life, she kind of becomes part of the dog. You really do watch Diego with his own personality, not the grown woman standing above with her hands inside the puppet’s body.

You can tell by watching Black that this is a catharsis experience for him – the emotions he shows on stage are not being acted. What could easily have just been a lecture on the subject of mine sweeping in the desert is elevated into art through Black’s commitment to reenact the stories, even if his co-star must be a recreation of the real one.

Logan Black. Photo by Cynthia Levin

Bond is a unique show with real emotions and an intimate look into how PTSD can develop without being noticed. However, the show also illustrates how PTSD can be partially treated if you have a strong enough support system, whether human or not.

“Bond” plays at the Unicorn Theater through May 19. Tickets: 816-531-7529 or unicorntheatre.org.

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