A couple weeks ago, Mike Nichols posted some thoughts on Arianna Huffington’s blog collective, concerning the basic questions that all film and theater directors must address. Audiences, he wrote, will always demand “why are you telling me this? And you have to have a good answer for that one. One answer is: because it’s funny…If that is not the answer in theater there is another: because this is your life.” TimeLine Theatre’s production of “Martin Furey’s Shot,” about war photojournalists, is definitely not a comedy. Nor, crucially, does it satisfy Nichol’s “your life” quotient. And so you are left with that dangling query: Why are you telling me this? A first-time effort from local actress-turned-playwright Maureen Gallagher, the play centers on four photogs working in South Africa, circa 1994, just as apartheid is coming to an end. They are all, to various degrees, earnest yet jaded about their work—and it is clear they have trouble shaking off the psychic remnants of their survivor’s guilt. The problem with Gallagher’s setup is that it is obvious: it doesn’t take much imagination to understand that war photographers suffer a myriad of paradoxes in order to get the job done: they must witness and document humanity at its worst, but never step in to help. Once they get home, normal everyday concerns seem petty in comparison. Well duh. It’s a stressful job. We get it. What we don’t get is a more universal but complex examination of the way people interact with one another while enduring life’s bizarre incongruities. Director Anna C. Bahow’s production features enlarged projections of shots from working photographers, but the power of these images fails to register because the audience is never allowed to linger over the photos. That’s a real shame—and a huge lack of understanding about the way people interact with photographs. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.