No question about satire here; Immoral Combat, a Satire on the News Business races along with stereotypes blaring, and all the strong personalities you might expect to find in a newsroom, or in any old office. The stage is set with cluttered desks, computers and the haphazardness of a place where there is too much work, and not enough time to complete it; yes, like combat. When the lights come up we already know that this will be chaotic and fast paced, and it’s no surprise when the shouting and cursing begins in the first few lines. Rachael Bail, the producer/playwright, a journalist herself, seems to have written what she knows.
All the actors play their characters to the hilt. Each one is well defined, and in particular, James Svatko, as Chief Editor, makes himself easy to loathe. However, Elise W. Edwards, as Assistant Editor, with her eye on the top job, knows just when to keep her mouth shut to protect her job, and her chance for promotion. My personal favorite is Mike, the writer ‘neat freak’ (Jonathan P. Marget), who keeps a bottle of JB in the file cabinet for those moments when technology, and all else, seem to fail. The actors fit well into their roles, and they work through the many scene changes from newsroom, to bar/restaurant, to bedroom, to news conference, and back.
The show is intriguing even though its characters and story are somewhat predictable. The playwright works maybe too hard to get in all the expected elements, including an office affair between the old guy and the pretty young girl, and the middle aged woman who can’t get promoted until she initiates a discrimination law suit; and with so many scene changes the audience is often waiting in the dark for the next scene to begin. There is an extensive main plot here, which is interesting and credible; and it is surely the author and/or director’s intent that the play seem choppy; like so many sound bites.
The play overall is entertaining, with all its characters, plots and subplots, and especially for Washington audiences who love the media and the politics it covers.