‘CQ/CX’: When a reporter becomes the headline

Kobi Libii, left, and Steve Rosen star in “CQ/CX,” now playing at the Peter Norton Space.

The tale may be the stuff of tabloids, but it’s the New York Times that dominates “CQ/CX” at the Peter Norton Space. “Inspired” by the true story of Jayson Blair, the Times reporter who resigned in 2003 because of charges of plagiarism and fabrication, “CQ/CX” follows the trajectory of Jay Bennett (Kobi Libii) from intern to staff reporter to grist of scandal.

Gabe McKinley’s script builds nicely toward its inevitable climax, sharing glimpses of Jay’s shortcomings without hitting us over the head with them. He populates the story with stock but complex newspaper types who avoid becoming stereotypes. Perhaps the most interesting is Times lifer Frank King (Larry Bryggman). A seasoned veteran, he sees the end of his career is nigh and copes with a mixture of resignation, good nature and barely perceptible desperation. 

Publisher Junior (David Pittu), whose family has owned the paper for decades, loves to pontificate about its legacy — which is amusing but can also be overdone. He appoints Hal Martin (Arilss Howard) as executive editor, who in turn appoints Gerald Haynes (Peter Jay Fernandez) as the first African-American managing editor. Things become racially charged as Haynes becomes Bennett’s patron, since Bennett is also black. 

Director David Leveaux paces the show beautifully, although occasionally it gets slowed down in exposition. Overall it’s a satisfying, modern riff on the old-fashioned newsroom drama. 


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