‘Coerced: a documentary play’
Coerced, a play written and directed by Amanda Stern ’15 and Julian Seltzer ’15, tells the true and tragic story of Nga Truong, a then-sixteen-year-old girl accused of murdering her infant child in 2008 in the town of Worcester, MA.
The piece deals with the question of how far police officers can go to procure a confession.
The piece, styled as a documentary play, was written using words taken directly from historical and legal records, interviews and news articles from the time of Truong’s trial and case.
The play begins with reporter David Boeri (Sumner Alperin ’18) breaking the fourth wall and posing questions about police brutality and conduct to the audience.
Throughout the play, Boeri and Truong’s lawyer Edward Ryan (Dylan Hoffman ’18) serve as narrators, providing the audience with necessary context.
The narrators’ connecting pieces between scenes help move the plot along where it otherwise might have been difficult to connect the dots.
Centered around the initial interrogation of Truong (Christine Kim ’17), the play depicts pieces of her almost 3-hour interrogation.
The lighting and set, both sparse and cold, helped to focus the audience and prompt them to realize just how traumatic this experience must have been for Truong, who was a minor at the time.
The performances of the two police officers, Ryan Mouton ’17 as Det. John Doherty and Ben Gold ’18 as Sgt. Kevin Pageau, were compelling and sometimes terrifying.
The characters helped reinforce just how cruel the department was in dealing with Truong’s case.
The officers’ treatment of Truong raised concerns about the nature of police work, highlighting the importance of encouraging police officers to deal with trauma victims respectfully and with sensitivity.
The story itself was fascinating, and the questions posed to the audience were extremely compelling and interesting.
While individual performances were sometimes lacking, with actors sometimes stumbling over certain words or forgetting lines, the piece as a whole was clearly well compiled and thought-out.