Combining some of the same talent pool that made last season’s Some Girl(s) so entertaining, director Joy Vandervort-Cobb tackles the much more controversial Tracey Scott Wilson play, The Story.
Wilson based the play on a 1981 scandal involving Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke. Cooke had to return a Pulitzer after she admitted to fabricating a story about an 8-year-old heroin addict.
By adding elements of the Jayson Blair scandal, in which the New York Times reporter was found to have made up stories, Wilson updates her play with a Law and Order ripped-from-the-headlines feel.
Set around the murder of a white man in a black neighborhood, The Story is at once riveting, and yet full of clichés. But that is why we have clichés. They serve to give us a common foundation.
Yvonne, a young reporter, played by Kracell Q. Rowan, is desperate to prove that she is not a “black” reporter, just a good one. Hired to write for the black-oriented section of the newspaper, instead of the position in Metro that she feels she merits, Rowan does an excellent job of showing her indignation at both sides of the racial divide.
As with her smaller role in Some Girl(s), Rowan remains riveting to watch as a proud black woman. Even when she is proud for the wrong reasons. However, she falters once more when it comes to her love interest, a white editor. Just as last season, the chemistry is not there, and the production suffers for it.
Allen Lyndrup retains his crown as the king of CofC set design. Yet the play should have been staged in the smaller, more intimate Chapel Theatre. As presented in the Emmett Robinson, it loses some of its power.
The play’s staccato presentation, with multiple people carrying on multiple conversations at the same time can be hard to follow as eyes shift from stage left to stage right to follow who is speaking.
This is a powerful play, not too badly dated, and well acted. The questions it raises on journalistic ethics, personal morals, and the drive to succeed resound no matter the color of your skin.
While a smaller venue could be wished for, daring presentation of material that evokes such passionate response in the audience is to be commended.