Menino as Edward Murrow. Photo courtesy of Gerry Goodstein
By Nicholas Linnehan
Vitale's play about Edward Murrow is not only interesting historically, but
captivating to watch.
Joseph Vitale’s play about the life of Edward R. Murrow has been brought to
life by actor Joseph Menino and the Phoenix Theater Ensemble on the stage of
the Wild Project. It covers Murrow’s early life, his years in England during
WWII, and his crusade against Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the mid-1950‘s.
1 chronicles the Murrow's life from his humble beginnings in North Carolina to
his time in England during World War II as CBS’s chief correspondent. We learn
about his personal and professional life, his education, and his relationship
with the owner of CBS, Bill Paley. Surprisingly, Murrow never intended to be a
newscaster; he was supposed to be a behind-the-scenes business administrator,
but with the onset of World War II everything changed. Mr. Menino channels Murrow
as he recalls the horrible and heart-wrenching events that took place during
the war. Murrow became famous broadcasting from London during the blitz.
one memorable scene he talks about looking down from a rooftop and seeing all
the aerial bombs exploding around him. He delivers this speech standing atop
his desk, giving us a sense of what it must have been like to witness the
horrors of war going on beneath him. Especially poignant was his description of
a concentration camp where over 40,000 Jews died. The images he drew with his
words (remember, this was radio) are unforgettable.
2 follows Murrow's coverage of Joe McCarthy during the 1950's and his
controversial takedown of the senator. Murrow describes the incredibly high
tensions of the era of McCarthyism and the blacklist, and what a monumental and
couragious step it was for Murrow and CBS to air a newscast that opposed the
senator. Murrow was, of course, the first media personality to take the senator
on. (One can only imagine what he would do with the current presidential
a one-man show is a high-risk enterprise for an actor. Mr. Menino is a fine
actor, with depth and range. He grabs our attention from the very first moment
and does not let go until the last line, and is as captivating in his fiery
moments as he is in his comical ones.
Jeremy Williams does a mostly fine job bringing Mr. Vitale’s play to life;
however, there is a lot of movement on stage, which can be distracting at
times. It appears as if the actor has been given too much blocking and
sometimes it feels forced, almost as if Mr. Menino is trying to make up for
being the only actor. Also, the last 15-20 minutes of the show gets a bit
preachy and didactic, as if the playwright is trying to say too much in too
short a time. Mr. Vitale's words shine best when he is giving voice to Murrow's
interesting life, but lose some of their power when he tries to pound messages
into our brain.
qualms notwithstanding, 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.
plays now through May 22nd at The Wild Project, 195 E. 3rd
St. www.ovationtixx.com Runtime 70 minutes with an