by Gabe McKinley
Directed by David Leveaux
A Production of the Atlantic Theater Company
Peter Norton Space, 555 West 42nd Street

Reviewed by David Spencer

CQ/CX dramatizes the scandal that hit The New York Times in 2003, wherein it was discovered that a young, black reporter had been plagiarizing and fabricating dozens upon dozens of stories. Playwright Gabe (Extinction) McKinley delivers the story tersely, in an almost reportorial way, suggesting a just-the-facts-ma'am style. The characterizations are strong and the atmosphere authentic, which keeps it from seeming bloodless and allows it to stay compelling. David Leveaux keeps the playing style lean and to the point, assisted in no small way by a cast that locks into the documentary feel—in particular, the older actors as the seasoned, matured newspaper veterans with newsprint for blood (Larry Bryggman, Tim Hopper, Peter Jay Fernandez, David Pittu and Arliss Howard). If the younger aren’t quite so shaved-to-the-essence, they’re not supposed to be; they are after all the still-dreaming, still-ambitious hopefuls (Sheila Tapia, Steve Rosen and—at the heart of it all—Kobi Libii).

                        CQ/CX is, however, a play that some will find unsatisfying because of what seems the enigma at the center, the young reporter whose motives are never sufficiently explicated. And in truth, they can't be, in any rational context; his is the pathology of clinical personality disorder; its rationalization is a product of impulse, damaged self-image and distorted perspective. There's no making sense out of crazy. But because such terminology or analysis is not in CQ/CX's meticulously reportorial purview, the pathology is only presented sans comment, interpretation, reveal or label; all that's unequivocal is the personal and journalistic damage left in its wake.

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