So I've been doing this thing lately where I experience shows without doing any prior research to prepare me for what I am about to see. That way, all of my opinions are entirely my own. I like going in with as open a mind as possible, and that's exactly what I did with 59E59Theaters' Cool Hand Luke.
When the usher showed me to my seat (front row!), I actually exclaimed in delight, not because I liked my view so much (although I did), but because the actors were already bordering the dark, foggy stage when I walked in. And the theatre was so intimate that no seats were really bad seats; I was sat close enough to the actors to see the sweat dripping down their skin.
I rooted for the guy they called Cool Hand Luke. Luke with a tattoo on his right bicep that read "hand grenade," Luke who got terrorized and beaten by his evil dictator-like warden, Luke who proved his badassity by downing fifty hard boiled eggs in an hour without puking, and Luke whose multiple escape attempts from his imprisonment excited and brought hope to his fellow prisoners. Yes, he was a criminal, but he was one that I couldn't help but like. He had a blatant disregard for the rules that was kind of admirable, albeit somewhat unwise, and he reminded me of those smart-asses in high school (you know the ones) who would swagger into class twenty minutes late with a lengthy speech that'd charm their teacher into letting them off the hook.
At first glance, Luke seemed like your average jerk, but as the story progressed, it became clear that there was a lot more to him.
Luke risked his life in the war before he got imprisoned for a single drunken night of vandalism. He began reluctantly serving out his sentence, but not without the baggage from his time as a soldier.
I began to feel for him.
Luke, haunted by painful memories of the war, and much like myself, devoid of religion, often mocked people who believed in a higher power, literally daring God to punish him for his blasphemy. I got the impression that Luke was searching for a way out, begging for something to happen to free him from his misery, anything. I wanted him to find what he was looking for.