No Emmys for ‘Good Television’ at Zeitgeist, but strong acting elevates it

The cast of "Good Television" at Zeitgeist Stage Company. Credit: Becca A. Lewis Photography
The cast of “Good Television” at Zeitgeist Stage Company. Credit: Becca A. Lewis Photography

Like the art form it lampoons, “Good Television” has captivating moments that’ll raise your ire and make you root beyond all hope for the downtrodden victim at the center of the show. It will also, however, leave you feeling manipulated by plot choices as pedestrian and cliche as those that drive reality TV.

Zeitgeist Stage Company, under the impeccable direction of David Miller, manages to keep things both interesting and entertaining despite the script’s shortcomings. But playwright Rod McLachlan’s inexperience leads the story to an all-out shouting match with a big secret ripping the already ravaged family further apart. Both play and playwright are guilty of what they’re condemning.

“Rehabilitation” is a reality show that exploits drug addicts and their families with an offer of expensive treatment in exchange for filming their downward spiral and subsequent intervention. With three million viewers, the producers decide to capitalize on their ratings gold by doubling the number of episodes without increasing resources.

“Rock star” producer Connie Cuellar (Christine Power) faces her first ethical dilemma when forced to choose someone she deems un-savable because he’s an attractive young man. So begins the convoluted mishmash of ethical issues being scrutinized.

Ironically, while the plot devices don’t always work, the story itself often does. The manipulation of Clemso (Ben Lewin), the addict, by everyone in his life is far more fascinating than any heavy-handed social commentary McLachlan makes. Equally riveting is the destructive power Clemso’s meth addiction has over his sister Brittany (Jenny Reagan).

Reagan and Power deliver such strong performances that you almost forget the problems with “Good Television.” That kind of theater is definitely worth watching.

If you go
“Good Television”
through May 17th
BCA PLaza Black Box Theatre, 539 Tremont St., Boston
617-933-8600
$25 – $30
www.zeitgeiststage.com



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