Amlin Gray John Beaufort - Essay

John Beaufort

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Amlin Gray's "How I Got That Story" achieves a multiple exposure in more than theatrical terms. The two-man, 22 character satire … is at once the mocking tale of a naive newsman and a bitter caricature of American military adventurism in Southeast Asia. Its bark is worse than its intellectual bite. But Mr. Gray's writing is sword-edged.

Form and expression conjoin in this tale of The Reporter … transplanted from the western part of East Dubuque to the TransPanGlobal wire service bureau in the capital of Ambo-Land (read Vietnam). The Reporter is Simple Simon with a press card, Candide as war correspondent. Armed with pad, pencil, tape recorder, and gullibility the middle-American innocent plunges into his perilous and mind-bending adventure.

As The Reporter embarks on his assignment, Mr. Gray introduces an omnibus character dubbed The Historical Event…. (pp. 349-50)

Through all of his encounters, The Reporter doggedly pursues his credo of seeing things straight and reporting them honestly. Scrape after scrape increases his bewilderment until he realizes that, instead of covering the country, the country is covering him. At last, having resigned as a reporter, he comes to inhabit a self-deluding fantasy that Ambo-Land is his real home…. In the end, The Reporter is reduced to the status of demented derelict, just one more human-interest subject for the battered photographer.

"How I Got That Story" is protest play in terms of bleak black comedy. Moral outrage over the underlying causes of an Ambo-Land debacle lies at the heart of the playwright's sardonic view. There is no attempt at objectivity or impartial comment. This is a fiercely felt polemic. (pp. 349-50)

John Beaufort, in a review of "How I Got That Story," in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1982 The Christian Science Publishing Society; all rights reserved), February 23, 1982 (and reprinted in New York Theatre Critics' Reviews, Vol. XXXXIII, No. 3, February 1, 1982, pp. 349-50).