Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Story"

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note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Larry Stark

"The Story"

by Tracey Scott Wilson
Directed by David J. Miller

Lighting Design by Darrem Evans
Costume Design by Tracy Campbell
Sound by Waldo Eduardo
Scenic Design by David J. Miller
Assistant Stage Manager Daniel Bourque
Stage Manager Mariana Maranhao

Jessica Dunn.....Caryn Andrea Lindsey
Detective/Ensemble...W. Yvonne Murphy
Jeff/Tim Dunn...........Gabriel Field
Yvonne....................Nydia Calon
Pat.....................Michelle Dowd
Neil...................Keedar Whittle
Latisha...........Chantel Nicole Bibb
Reporter/Ensemble.......Kortney Adams
Gangbanger/Ensemble......Kaili Turner

Walking to the subway my mind filled with questions (like "What IS truth, really?" or "Can two reporters see the same event differently?") that seeing "The Story" left spinning in the air about me. Even now I realize that it wasn't "my mind" that was "walking to the subway" and I'm aware of my own bad grammar because Tracey Scott Wilson's play makes a big point about good writing and good reporting, hand in hand, making not so much THE truth but A truth. This Zeitgeist Stage Company production kicking off this fall's new theatrical season may well be the best damn play of the year, because it makes questions spin in the mind, and I urge everyone to get down to the BCA for this mind-spinning experience.

Designer/Director David J. Miller, as is his wont, has scattered the audience around the edges of the BCA's Black Box playing area, and keeps his cast spinning as idea after idea spirals out from the action. The 85 minutes of the play are as crammed with details as any novel, and people --- particularly a "chorus" of reporters (print, t-v, radio; played by Kaili Turner, W. Yvonne Murphy & Kortney Adams) --- play multiple roles. This is a very "cinematic" script with focus continually shifting from person to scene to idea, and it is a credit to this fine cast that, as the playwright probably intended, it gets less and less bewildering as it unfolds.

In the opening scene, a woman (Caryn Andrea Lindsey) is describing a crime to a detective (W. Yvonne Murphy). At points in this dialogue, though, she turns and enters the scene she's describing, talking to her husband (Gabriel Field) as, lost, he drives through the night-time streets of the city's Black ghetto. The playwright uses this technique repeatedly. In some scenes a dialogue takes place, but both speakers lean out of the scene to exchange comments on it with their two editors. In these cases, the two streams of conversation representing two divergent views end punctuated by the same sentence uttered in both dialogues. And rather than confusing the issues, this quicksilver technique deepens the message that what people, even editors, even reporters, think about something is determined by the perspective from which they see it.

The story in "The Story" involves a Black/White shooting investigated both by the experienced "Black desk" reporters (Keedar Whittle & Michelle Dowd) and by their new and ambitious member (Nydia Calon) and her city-desk editor (Gabriel Field). But there are turf-wars, personality clashes, class conflicts, and history --- both institutional and personal --- involved along the way. And everything comes to a head when a kid calling herself "Latisha" (Chantel Nicole Bibb) drops a clue that just might break the story wide open and lead to promotions, if not Pulitzers.

Go down to the BCA and find out for yourself what "the truth" here might be.

As for me, as I walked home my mind was still spinning questions:
Is it wrong for a Black person to want to be White?
How much should an objective reporter empathize with a source?
How much does "objective reporting" affect social change?
Can anyone see anything from anything but a personal point-of-view?
What IS Truth, really?


"The Story" (2 - 24 September)
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON
Sunday, 9/11, following the 7 PM performance there will be a discussion with mark Jurkowitz and Dan Kennedy.

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