Murrow Shines!

14 May
 (reviewed for TheaterScene)

Joseph Vitale’s play about the life of Edward Murrow it’s not only interesting historically, but captivating to watch. Phoenix Theatre Ensemble does a great job bringing this play to life.

 

Performing a one-man show is quite a feat. Therefore, Murrow is a triumph of sorts. Joseph Menino grabs our attention from the very first moment and does not let go until the last line. Playwright Joseph Vitale’s work about the life of Edward Murrow it’s not only interesting historically, but captivating to watch. Phoenix Theatre Ensemble does a great job bringing this play to life.

Act 1 chronicles the beginnings of Murrow’s life from his humble beginnings in North Carolina to his coverage of World War II for CBS. We learn about his personal and professional life, his education, and his relationship with the owner of CBS Bill Paley. Surprisingly, Murrow was never supposed to be a newscaster, but a behind-the-scenes business administrator. But with the onset of World War II everything changed. Act 2 follows Murrow’s coverage of Joe McCarthy during the 1950’s and his controversial take down of the senator.

Menino is it a fine actor with depth and range. He has flushed out the nuances of his character well, and thus delivers a poignant performance. His subtlety on stage speaks volumes and his passion never wanes. We can watch him forever as he gives an honest performance. He is as captivating in his fiery moments as he is in his comical ones. .

Director Jeremy Williams does a fine job illuminating this play. However, there is a lot of movement on stage by Menino. It seems as if he’s trying to make up for being the only actor on stage. The frequent movement can distracting at times. It appears as if the actor has been given too much blocking and sometimes it feels forced. Also, the end of the play, the last 15 or 20 minutes gets a little preachy. Vitale, no doubt has a lot to say, and does it mostly well. But the latter part of the play becomes didactic. It seems as if the playwright is trying to say too much in too short of time. Vitale’s words shine best when he is giving voice to Murrow’s interesting life and lose power when he tries to pound messages into our brain.

But these qualms withstanding, Murrow makes for a good, thought-provoking production. We can easily become bored from listening to a single actor for nearly two hours. But to everyone’s credit that does not happen and we are treated to an educationally intriguing night at the theater.

Murrow plays now through May 22 at the Wild Project, 195 E 3rd St. www.ovationtix.com

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