HOW I GOT THAT STORY -- At the Terrace Theater through June 14.
A pop Vietnam called Amboland, which is a Terry and the Pirates sort of place where blond American determination is pitted against the Dragon Lady and other wily and/or inscrutable Orientals, is the scene of Amlin Gray's "How I Got That Story," a Folger Theatre Group production at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater.
A comically naive American reporter, innocent of history, geography, military tactics, journalistic experience, experience at life and insight into human character, goes to Amboland to get the story for an international news organization.
What story? you may ask, before or after seeing the play.
Our hero, a wide-eyed peasant from Dubuque (the stereotypical jokes having been fairly distributed between the hemispheres) unwittingly represents the New Journalism -- his chief concern is not the county or the war he's supposed to be covering, but his own "involvement" or lack of it. On seeing his first protest suicide by flame, his comment, addressed to himself, is, "You're not here, you're just recording this." But he's not recording anything, as it turns out, except his emotional temperature.
And that lacks some intensity, as Don Scardino, in the reporter role, runs the predictable gamut of attempting to go home and then attempting to go native -- even down to offering his unsullied heart and hand to a cynical bargirl -- as if he were jogging in place, waiting for the light to change.It looks like a worthwhile exercise, demanding stamina, but it doesn't go anywhere interesting.
The other actor in the clever choreography of sliding panels and vignettes directed by Carole Rothman is Richard Kline, playing all other roles, from Dragon Lady and bargirl to bureau chief, spaced-out American soldier and guerrilla interregator. He does an amazing job, juggling races, sexes and types with funny deftness; but the characters, grouped in the program as "The Historical Event," are still of comic-strip depth.