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Review: Sex Crimes Discovered at Local Theater - in THE OUTRAGE MACHINE by Daniel Carter Brown at West End Performing Arts Center

Review: Sex Crimes Discovered at Local Theater - in THE OUTRAGE MACHINE by Daniel Carter Brown at West End Performing Arts Center

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The 2022 Essential Theatre Play Festival (running until August 28th and co-supported by Fulton County Arts & Culture) includes THE OUTRAGE MACHINE by Daniel Carter Brown and is described as a "satiric drama that explores internet journalism, social media, and the culture of outrage." Daniel Carter Brown is co-winner of the 2020 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award (along with Beverly Trader Austin) and due to the pandemic, two years later, this summer was the first time this play, directed by Peter Hardy, was able to premier. Essential Theatre, also founded by Peter Hardy and managed by Jennifer Kimball, is Georgia's "longest-running theater company exclusively dedicated to supporting Georgia playwrights." Essential indeed, and Atlanta is lucky to have them.

Essential Theatre describes THE OUTRAGE MACHINE as "a semi-comedic exploration of internet journalism, social media, and the culture of outrage. Twenty-something Rina Marsh [played by Hannah Morris] gets a job writing headlines for The Centurion, an upstart website aiming to stand out for its integrity and responsibility. Rina finds that pushing people's anger buttons results in more views, and she and the website become rapidly successful. But one headline goes too far, and Rina finds out what happens when an angry public gets out of control."

The play is well cast with great performances by all. Hanna Morris and Ellie Styron are excellent at setting the tone for a familiar and comfortable sisterhood that contrasts well with equally grounded performances in the revolving door of characters played by the ensemble. It takes special skills to create and break a fourth wall with consistency and ease. Each of the Atlantan ensemble is deft at inhabiting a variety of characters while keeping the clarity, continuity, and increasing speed of the through-line of headlines. Quality performances include Daryl Patrice as an engaging talk-show semi-celebrity and Alejandro Gutierrez who draws us in with their curiosity of things sensational. Anna Fontaine, David Soyka, Jeff Hathcoat, Matthew Ferro, Kelly Nguyen, and understudy Marita McKee and swing Daniel Carter Brown clearly work well together, lifting the play to alluring heights.

Scenic designer Gabrielle S. Stephenson uses several thoughtful and clever ways to guide the story throughout its varying locations as well as creating an environment that serves a repertory run adjacent to John Mabey's acclaimed professional premier of A COMPLICATED HOPE in the West End Performing Arts Center's blackbox. Nothing is extraneous nor wasted, including a painted spiraling design of vein-like wires reaching out from the floor into the walls. Lighting design by Harley Gould and sound design by Frederick Philp and Kacie Willis easily guides our imaginations within the story. Costume design and prop design by Savannah Cobb and Dionna D. Davis stand out with effective and simple methods used throughout the show.

Daniel Carter Brown's THE OUTRAGE MACHINE successfully tackles and focuses the beast of an ever altering colossal topic: journalistic integrity in the age of click-bate career paths, corporatized political and exploitive marketing, and the most powerful monotized commodity in the quantitatives of humanity: influence. Kudos to Brown for creating a story about an exponentially inventive industry that holds up throughout a two-year paused premier. I am still thinking about the ways my anger, angst, and outrage is ritualitstically, subconiously, and not-so-subtly provoked on a consistent basis. Go see this play! (Did I influence you?)

Image art: Essential Theatre

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From This Author - Jennifer Skura Boutell

Jennifer writes, and makes theatre and has done so with some fine, fine folks including the upcoming FADlab and Atlanta's Some Bodies Theatre Collective. She was born and raised in Texas, moved... (read more about this author)


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