HUNGRY FOR HEADLINES
by Chad Menville
published October 17, 2008
now playing Off Broadway at the Barrow St. Theater
On stage: desk, a chair, a half bottle of bourbon and a video camera aimed at the desk. Out walks Augustine Early, played by the
wonderfully beguiling Campbell Scott. Enchanting and delightfully pitch perfect, this one-person show is a provocative, refreshing tour de
Augustine is a washed-up crooked reporter who wants his name to be on the tip of everyone's tongue. Hungry for headlines and
chasing his 15 minutes, he will do anything to get his next front-page story. Next in his crosshairs is local Congressman Wallace.
Augustine has abandoned conscience yet mentally makes room on his mantelpiece for awards. Vulgar yet charming, inspired and
self-destructive, he runs towards his own kind of truth, stepping on plenty of toes along the way.
The play "is written very much as a jazz score," says Justin Waldman, the director. "There's not a single punctuation mark in the
script." And though it is not a straight-told story, its progression remains swift and captivating. Playwright Ronan Noone has skillfully
crafted a character who is part whistleblower and pariah, in a story of how the press can so easily be manipulated; a subject so central to
90 minutes of watching a person who does not believe in God or a soul might prove too much for some theatergoers. There have been
reports of a few walkouts, but isn't powerful, memorable, life-altering art meant to shake things up a bit? At the end of the day, The
Atheist is a welcome escape from Broadway; a must-see (for the 18 and over crowd) with a heck of a lot more laughs than its title would
suggest. As Augustine Early would say, "This is pure gold."
chadmenville @ stageandcinema.com