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Theater review: 'Heralds' at Theatre Tribe

November 11, 2010 |  4:30 pm

Heralds Recent attacks on Russian journalists are grim reminders that speaking truth to power doesn’t always bring a lucrative cable contract. “Heralds,” John Cellini’s ambitious satire on unpopular opinions now at Theatre Tribe, considers how to challenge the system without being destroyed in the process.

Joe (Jeff Kerr McGivney), the new executive editor of the “Kansas City Herald,” runs an editorial cartoon lampooning Creationism—triggering a boycott by Christian readers led by Reverend Bob (Pete Gardner) and Barbara (Lisa Pescia, alternating with Maia Danziger). The paper’s owner, Harte (Andrew Bloch) argues for a retraction, as does Joe’s fiancée (Annie Tedesco), who happens to be Harte’s daughter. Struggling to hold his ground, Joe discovers the cartoon’s author is his colleague Loki (Rob Mathes), gunning for Joe’s job and his girl. 

What seems like a conventional liberal drama takes a surprise turn when Socrates (Steve Hofvendahl) shows up, the first in a line of famous dead dissenters. Should Joe go down swinging or cave to corporate pressure? (Or, as a certain Nazi propaganda minister puts it, “drink the sweet wine of Viacom.”)

Director Stuart Rogers’ production has yet to find solid footing; Cellini’s wit and theatricality requires relentlessly sharp timing and stronger production values. But given that America’s culture wars continue to rage, here’s hoping Theatre Tribe will give this world premiere time to develop and be heard.

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“Heralds,” Theatre Tribe, 5267 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Ends Dec. 18. No performances on Thanksgiving weekend. $20. Contact: 800-838-3006 or Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

Photo: Jeff Kerr McGivney (seated) and Rob Mathes in 'Heralds' at Theatre Tribe. Credit: Stuart Rogers.