Review: ABOVE THE FOLD at Factory On 5th

presented by The Filigree Theatre at Factory on 5th

By: Apr. 19, 2024
Review: ABOVE THE FOLD at Factory On 5th
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Julie Zaffarano’s ABOVE THE FOLD, set in 1935, is a play about three investigative reporters and a photographer who are staying in the same hotel as they cover a grand jury. The work of this particular grand jury is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to conduct a trial for the murder of singer Evelyn Hoey by her lover, Henry Huddleston Rogers III, the son of one of the richest men in the world. Initially, each reporter is vying for the same goal: get enough sensational material to get an article printed “above the fold”. (The term “above the fold” refers to the story people would first lay their eyes on when picking up a paper; we might also know this by the term “headline,” the content that appears on the top half of the front page of a newspaper.) Fundamentally, however, this play examines issues of journalistic integrity, victimization, truth vs. sensationalism, justice vs. power, and coping with personal demons.

Unusual for 1935, one of the investigative reporters is female. As events unfold, the audience witnesses Dorothy Walton’s personal and actual struggle for acknowledgement as an equal to the male reporters, none of whom truly recognize her as an equal. She is continually faux-mentored by Roy (reporter for New York Times), condescended to while also being romantically pursued by her ex-lover Carl (reporter for Philadelphia Bulletin), and nearly dismissed by the inferred character of her editor. Despite these possible career obstructions, Walton finds support from the hotel barmaid Minnie, and gradually learns to trust her intrinsic voice and motivation as a reporter, finding some fleeting success in telling Evelyn Hoey’s real life story. 

Austin theater company, The FIligree Theatre, is performing ABOVE THE FOLD at Factory on 5th as part of their 5th Anniversary Season and as part of National New Play Network, an alliance of professional theaters that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce, and extend the life of new plays. Directed by Elizabeth V. Newman, The Filigree Theatre’s production of ABOVE THE FOLD skillfully conveys the rising tension between the reporters, effectively draws out the conflicts between truth-telling and headline-oriented fabrication in reporting news, and neatly delivers an ironic, surprising ending.

Leading the cast of ABOVE THE FOLD, Maddie Scanlan (Dorothy) offers a solid performance, moving between frustration with her colleagues, equivocation in her personal life, and self-discovery in uncovering her inner voice. Scanlan particularly stands out in her scenes with Toluwani (Minnie) and Angela J. Latham (Mrs. Hoey), where the struggles of each of the women compassionately and carefully leads to the transformation of each of their characters. 

In the supporting cast, Toluwani (Minnie) artfully delivers her character’s journey from a standoffish hotel employee to an empathetic confidante, revealing a true warmth in her role while gently drawing us into Minnie’s story. Angela J. Latham (Mrs. Hoey) ably portrays a grieving, harassed mother, and reminds us all to lean toward truth and kindness when confronted with grief and misinformation. Julius Alum (Roy) and Joe Kelley (George) are a well-matched duet, providing a microcosm of the larger play in the differences between their personalities and individual ethos of reporting, but also contributing well-acted humor and affability. 

Many of the production elements of ABOVE THE FOLD are exceptional. Patrick Anthony’s set design is visually striking and very effective. With ornate, solid wood chairs and table, period telephones, typewriters, a large wooden bar, and easily-accessed performance spaces, the stage itself stands in integrity concerning artful vision and elegance. This is enhanced by his equally beautiful lighting design and Liz Tyson’s property design. Johann Solo’s sound design is constructed with attention to detail, tastefully and efficiently layering the recorded voices of Henry (Bailey Ellis), Evelyn (Arielle Laguette), Dorothy (Scanlan), and Carl (Shane Cullum) with period music and other sounds for scene transitions as well as for parts of the plot. 

The Filigree Theatre’s presentation of ABOVE THE FOLD is an enjoyable performance, funny, tender, thoughtful, and apropos to many of the issues surrounding journalistic integrity. Viewing the journey of each of the characters grants us opportunity to reflect on our own motivations and results, and - as mentioned above - the set design is worth viewing on its own. One note: some audience members may be disturbed by some mild language and/or extended depictions of re-enacted suicide. 


Written by Julie Zaffarano

Factory on 5th, 3409 E. 5th St., Austin, TX 78702

April 18-28, Thursdays-Saturdays 8:00 pm, Sundays 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Running Time: 2 hours; one 15-minute intermission

Tickets: $25-$40 


To post a comment, you must register and login.

Vote Sponsor