TRUTH BE TOLD – Written by William Cameron; Directed by Christy Montour-Larson. produced by Curious Theatre Company (1080 Acoma, Denver) through February 10. Tickets available at 303-623-0524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have occasionally confessed that one of my gauges for how engaged I am in a production is measured by how many notes I take. Quite frankly, if I think I’m not going to be able to remember what happened, I take a lot of notes. If I am intrigued from the starting gate, no notes are needed. Maybe instead of a WOW factor rating, I should use 1-2-3 pages of notes as a ranking tool.
This show would have been a “no notes” ranking!!
Engaging, startling, feisty, intriguing, captivating from the start to finish. A two-hander involving a true crime journalist is interviewing an ordinary woman named Kathleen who is the mother of a teenager who shot a group of people at his workplace, including his stepfather. The journalist is convinced she has all the facts and is working on the “why” of the situation. The mother knows the novelist does NOT have all the facts and wants her to see things the way she sees them – that someone else did it and her son is being sacrificed on the media cross. The brilliant Karen Slack plays the mother with determination and passion. She has been harassed by the public to the point that she had to move out of her home into a dingy basement apartment, maligned in social media with life-threatening emails, and feels that this her last chance to get the truth about her son out to the public. She is worn down, ragged and mourning, but still determined to clear his name. Trying very hard to remain calm and present her case in a logical professional manner, she just barely keeps herself from screaming.
The journalist is played by an actress Karen’s equal, Jada Suzanne Dixon. She brings a professional noncommittal patina to the role of Jo Hunter. She wants to “do her job” to get the deep background she feels she needs for her story, without getting so involved she loses her perspective. Her questions are pointed, sometimes blunt, nearly every one a visible pain in Kathleen’s heart. In an attempt at solidarity with her interviewee, she confesses her own insecurities and perceived weaknesses as a mother. But her impatience with Kathleen’s unwillingness to accept the truth seeps through her veneer of sympathy. Does a reckoning come? You bet it does in one of the most startling and heartbreaking scenes you’re likely to see this year.
Caitlin Ayer’s design of a dingy $500 a month hole in the wall apartment with its beige furniture and tiny kitchen was too authentic for words. I feel like I lived there during college. The whole set is framed with a false proscenium that focuses your attention on center stage where the action is going on and presents the play almost as a TV show.
This is a poignant and powerful portrayal of every parent’s worst nightmare. You will want to go home and hug your kids after this show.
A WOW factor of 9.25!!