nytheatre.com review by Judith Jarosz
August 15, 2004
How many Americans know the difference between Muslim and Islamic, and whether we are actually at war with Iraq or not? How far will the media go to put a spin on any subject, no matter how disturbing, for publicity? These are some of the issues addressed by young playwright Sharyn Rothstein in Live Coverage.
The play starts out with an average middle-aged couple, Allison and Bob Martin, watching a newscast on CNN. Allison (Dawn McGee) sees what she thinks may be a woman being raped in the background and, horrified, wonders what she can do. After alerting the media, Bob and Allison go on a tumultuous journey that drags them through the talk show circuit, into the center of a reality show called “Live Coverage: Name That Rapist,” and ultimately takes Allison to the middle East. The play comments on the lack of understanding that a lot of people have about world events, each other, and who controls what in the world, by showing us greedy media executives, young people in dead end jobs, and a Middle Eastern couple, all reacting to these events.
Director Lisa Marie Meller has gathered a large, very impressive cast of seasoned actors, all of whom understand the comic style. Dawn McGee and Jim Barry do a really nice job as Allison and Bob Martin, the tormented American couple. Mary Goggin and Alex Emanuel are hilarious as media executives Olive and Oscar. Michael Quinlan is superbly understated as newscaster Joel Steinberg, and Kurt Everhart provides a star turn as Sir Henry, a camel riding, “ex-British, ex-homosexual” now living in the Middle East. Noah Peters, Jeremy Bohen, Vivien Landau, Adair Moran, Jordana Mollick, Michelle Dingoor, and Donald Rizzo, all do fine work
The costumes by Brian Lady, the lighting design by Eric Dente, the set design by Camille Connolly, and the sound design by Derek Wright are nicely thought-out and superior to most of my past “fringe” experiences.
The piece runs a bit long and could use an intermission, but it is intriguing enough to make you wonder what subject Rothstein will tackle next. I thought it was a nice touch that they had a New York State voter registration form inside the program.