“Truth Like the Sun” at Book-It”

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The Cast of Truth Like the Sun
Photo by Chris Bennion

Seattle boosterism! Seattle enthusiasm! Seattle nostalgia! “Truth Like the Sun” by local novelist Jim Lynch bursts onto Book-It’s stage with the opening party for the 1962 World’s Fair. Seattle is about to present to the world a fair filled with futuristic wonders—the monorail, the space needle, the science pavilion. Goodbye sleepy backwater! Hello major metropolis! If you adore Seattle history this production, adapted by Kevin McKeon’s and directed by Jane Jones will please you.

At the novel’s center is Roger Morgan (Chris Ensweiler), a visionary backslapper who saw the potential for such an enterprise. His energy and contacts did much to make it happen, and he actually designed the Space Needle on the back of a napkin then helped find funding for it.

Just imagine the celebration on stage! The excitement, the lively party! Then all too soon, the play’s time shifts to 2001 when the overly ambitious Helen Gulanos (Jennifer Lee Taylor), a new to Seattle reporter for the P.I., learns about the fair and Roger’s role in its development as she covers Roger who is now a candidate in Seattle’s mayoral race. Despite Roger’s overwhelming charm, there’s something about him that bothers her. What she finds convinces her that he’s not quite what he appears to be. There are probably some pretty smelly deals in the background of this enthusiastic glad hander Thus begins her quest for information to support an exposè that might well earn her a Pulitzer Prize.

Unfortunately, in this production, the three separate stories (Roger Morgan’s story, Helen’s story, and the story of Seattle’s coming of age) aren’t effectively woven into one overriding tale. The individual bits and pieces never come together. The drama does raise some interesting questions about journalistic ethics, but these aren’t really explored.

Seattle in the 1960s is well presented in Catherine Cornell’s clever set. It features a series of changing Seattle photomontages that work as a backdrop to the action. There’s something charming and naive about the images of the Fair and Seattle in that transitional time. We’re a very different city now.

Book-It is renowned for it’s ability to adapt literature for the stage. This is one of their less successful adaptations.

Through May 18 at Center Theatre in the Armory in Seattle Center, (206 216-0833 or boxoffice@book-it.org).

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