Horrors Of War Come Home In Synchronicity’s ‘The Hero’s Wife’

Joe Sykes and Rebecca Robles in "The Hero's Wife."
Joe Sykes and Rebecca Robles in "The Hero's Wife."
Credit Courtesy of Jerry Siegel

When we talk about “casualties of war,” we’re normally referring to the dead. But the violence of war reaches far beyond the battlefield. Chicago playwright Aline Lathrop’s newest play considers that on a granular level.

It’s called “The Hero’s Wife,” and it deals with a retired Navy SEAL returning home to his young wife, who are both forced to reckon with his increasingly violent struggle with post-traumatic stress.

The production is part of a joint world premier between Atlanta’s Synchronicity Theatre and 16th Street Theatre in Chicago.

“He’s having night terrors and harming her at night,” Synchronicity artistic director Rachel May tells “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes, “and she’s not telling him.”

Part of the reason that the woman, Karyssa, played by Atlanta actor Rebecca Robles, keeps her husband Cameron’s (played by actor Joe Sykes) night terrors to herself is emotional and complicated.

“He won’t let her know him during the day,” Lathrop says, “and that’s the main quest of the play, it’s her quest to know him and heal him and their relationship through knowing each other. So she risks both of their lives so they can know each other.”

Synchronicity has partnered with United Military Care and Veterans Empowerment Organization to aid in the rehearsal process and to facilitate post-show discussions throughout the run. It was the story of one particular veteran that sparked Lathrop’s interest in writing this play.

“There was an Esquire article in 2013 called ‘The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden … Is Screwed,’ and it was a long interview with the man who may have shot bin Laden, who left the Navy after 19 years afterwards without any retirement or health insurance and not much explanation of why he left.”

“I thought how can that be?” she says. “I was first interested in researching the play from a social justice standpoint. But I really wanted, in telling the story, to explore the limits of love and forgiveness.”

“The Hero’s Wife” is onstage at Synchronicity Theatre through May 5.

Aline Lathrop and Rachel May with Lois Reitzes. (Summer Evans/WABE)