Some four months after the devastation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the iconic images of Hurricane Katrina are fading from the collective memory, while the resolve to confront the issues of race and poverty that those images created is all but invisible. Jeffrey Bruner’s documentary play demonstrates that a few snippets from the media-storm surrounding the actual storm seem destined to survive: W’s “Brownie, you’re doing a hell of a job,” and his mom’s “They were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.” Unfortunately, “Katrina” demonstrates little else. A barrage of words from politicians, journalists, and (all too few) actual survivors collaged together, Bruner’s play feels like an overdose of CNN, with asides from the blogosphere. There’s too much information here and too little perspective. Patrick Rybarczyk stages “Katrina” like the glorified school assembly that it is, and the performers are most successful in avoiding cheap W. impressions. The moment of greatest dramatic tension in the evening is Anderson Cooper’s on-air confrontation with Sen. Mary Landrieu (awkwardly blocked here as a face-to-face argument). That’s a fact about modern journalism that could itself be the kernel of a fascinating play, but Bruner’s effort never rises beyond the level of mere data. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.