Fringe review: Kill the Column

By John Lyle Belden

Written by former Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press columnist Garrett Mathews, “Kill the Column,” presented by mamaproductions on the Theatre on the Square second stage, presents aging veteran columnist Grinder, played by Mark Atchison, who has just been demoted to beat reporter, as the paper will no longer run his column.

In fact, in a reflection of the state of many newspapers today, Grinder isn’t the only person seeing his job picture change. Numerous other staffers have lost their jobs altogether, and from the inside it looks like the paper itself is doomed. One of the few remaining newsroom denizens is Marilou (MaryAnn Mathews), a society writer resigned to adjusting with the changes and enjoying her work while she has it. She even refuses to take the bait when grumpy Grinder gets more surly than usual with her.

After Marilu exits, Mathews returns minutes later as a much different character – one able to help Grinder escape his grind. But the decision will come at a cost, and not just to him.

This twist drives the subject of the decline of newspapering to the background, as the plot is revealed to be more about family, love and what is truly important. So you don’t have to be an ink-stained jaded journalist like me to appreciate this little comic drama with a surprising amount of heart.

By the way, Garret Mathews told me that some of the odd things that Grinder relates happened in his career are based on actual events that happened to Mathews or his journalistic peers. It’s an interesting life, trust me.

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