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Immoral Combat: A Satire on the News Business Warehouse – Mainstage
Remaining Performances: Saturday 7/18 at 11:30 pm, Sunday 7/19 at 7 pm, and Sunday 7/26 at 4:15 pm.
They say: “A satire on the news business, is set in the Worldwide Broadcasting newsroom, where people in charge come and go. As the news ebbs and flows, the play highlights the crises in their lives.”
Caroline’s take: Yes, it’s a satire on the news business, but it’s more of a satire of workplaces in general. Whatever happens in this newsroom could happen anywhere else in the world. The group of characters spend the seventy minutes struggling to report the news, proving that regardless of the final product, not all news organizations run like well-oiled machines.
The play starts with a typical day at Worldwide Broadcasting, a government-run radio network. Larry, the chief editor, simplifies his problems by delegating all tasks to Elizabeth, the assistant editor. Two of the staff writers are too concerned with their own interests to contribute to the broadcast, and the only person invested in getting the news out is Mary, the ambitious young reporter who happens to be sleeping with Larry. After seeing the results of one broadcast, it becomes clear that covering the news is nobody’s strong suit, so the emphasis switches to the pitiful personal lives of the characters.
Whenever the characters sit down at the table opposite the newsroom set, they reveal some somber fact about their lives and plead with each other for better opportunities. Alene, an older copy clerk and aspiring writer, sits down with Elizabeth to announce that she plans to sue Larry and the company for age and sex discrimination and asks Elizabeth to testify on her behalf. As soon as she reveals her motives, both women strike a suddenly depressing note when they discuss what brought them to Worldwide Broadcasting in the first place. For Alene, becoming a writer was her first step to becoming independent after leaving her abusive husband. For Elizabeth, working her way up the masthead was a way of coping with the death of her child. Their messages are powerful, but the hectic pace of the newsroom swallows their emotions.
As the play drags on, editors come and go, eager to chase their next opportunity, and yet nothing changes. The action is static, and even as the writers rush to cover press conferences, nothing happens that affects anyone for the better or worse. Each day is the same as the one before and after a while, even the news begins to repeat. Scenes in the play blend into one another and it’s difficult to determine why the characters are so concerned about everything. By the time the lights go down, the characters discuss closure—-something the audience isn’t getting, either.
See it if: You don’t know a lot about the news business and enjoy behind-the-scenes drama more than what is happening to begin with.
Skip it if: You want to see something out of the ordinary or want to see a show with some sort of central plot.