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Review: BROKEN STORY at The Sherry Theater

Review: BROKEN STORY at The Sherry Theater

Solve the mystery in North Hollywood until November 27

In the West Coast premiere of Cyndy A. Marion's BROKEN STORY, Jess (Lindsay Danielle Gitter), a Manhattan journalist, relates her childhood obsession with a mobster's daughter whose parents died under mysterious circumstances. Years later, that daughter, Jane Hartman (Lynn Adrianna Freedman), has moved to Los Angeles and become a successful author. When she's found dead on Christmas Eve, Jess, still obsessed, makes her way to the City of Angels on her own dime and inserts herself into both the investigation into what is being viewed as a murder (Was it a mob hit? A crime of passion? A friend? A lover?) and into Jane's life prior to her death, leading to revelations she could never foresee.

Review: BROKEN STORY at The Sherry Theater
Lynn Adrianna Freedman
and David Hunter Jr.

Having had its world premiere in New York in November 2019, BROKEN STORY is inspired by the real-life murder of writer Susan Berman and her relationship with Robert Durst, who was a suspected serial killer and in 2021 convicted of Berman's 2000 murder after her case came to widespread attention through the HBO documentary series "The Jinx." While the series captivated millions, the play is less gripping. One of the actors often appears uncomfortable on stage, standing awkwardly and drawing the viewer out of the story. Marion's script is unwieldy, and the mystery is bogged down by uninspired exposition and introspection. A subplot of Jess' affair with her editor, Eddie (Rod Sweitzer), slows things even further, though Sweitzer brings a much-appreciated burst of energy.

The show would have been better served, if not outright salvaged, if director Tamara Ruppart had injected some of that energy into the rest of the proceedings. The mystery doesn't pop, it doesn't seize the audience in its clutches. There's supposed to be suspense underlying the story, but it never takes hold. Part of that may be because so much of the story is told to us versus shown to us so that it is hard to track all the characters we never meet, making it both meandering and difficult to care about. And then a plot twist comes out of nowhere at the end with no seeds planted along the way to make it earned. It pivots on things we never knew, evidence we would need to have before it's revealed as necessary to the action.

Review: BROKEN STORY at The Sherry Theater
Lynn Adrianna Freedman

It doesn't help that Jess is the least interesting character and she is the focal point, our entry into the lurid spheres of the mafia and Hollywood-two generally beguiling worlds. We see everything unfold through her eyes and her narration and her memories, and yet she never comes alive, so at 85 minutes (with no intermission) the show still feels long.

The set-up of BROKEN STORY is interesting, it just never catches fire in this lackluster production. You'd be better off checking out "The Jinx"-or the elegant yet overlooked 2010 dramatic thriller "All Good Things" with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst-to get insight into Durst and to scratch your true crime itch.

BROKEN STORY is performed at the Sherry Theater, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, through November 27. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (818) 527-5669, or by going to

Photos courtesy Matt Kamimura

From This Author - Harker Jones

Harker Jones has worked in publishing as a writer, editor, and critic for 15 years. He was managing editor of Out magazine for seven years and has written two novels (including t... (read more about this author)

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