Review by Andrew Snowdon
65 minutes / Drama / General
In 2002, Megan Shepard was attacked in a park, raped, and left for dead naked in the bushes. Jabari Woods haunted her nightmares every night, even after he was convicted and sent to jail. She spent years rebuilding her life, regaining her confidence, and relearning to open herself to others. Megan Shepard started to believe that the ordeal might, finally, be over. Eight years later, Megan got a letter that brought to light a terrible truth and changed everything—again.
Although Dead Wrong, Megan Shepard, and Jabari Woods are fictional, the situation isn’t. Minneapolis performer/creator Katherine Glover drew the inspiration and the details for this first-person account of a dual search for justice from her experiences as a journalist. She was deeply affected by an interview she did with a woman in a nearly identical situation. This interview and a later story she covered on a similar situation led her to research a multitude of cases of unintentional false accusation; Dead Wrong is the culmination and distillation of that research.
Dead Wrong should have a trigger warning. The material contains graphic depictions of brutal sexual violence, and the detailed emotional recovery of the protagonist over nearly a decade. Glover does not shy away from anything; there is no effort to sugar-coat or filter any of the material. Although the description of the rape itself is quite graphic, the story primarily concentrates on Megan Shepard’s inner struggle, first as a victim and then as someone who has made an honest, but irreversible, mistake. It also raises important questions about prejudice, memory and perception, victimization, and stigmatization. The issues Dead Wrong touches upon are not often talked about, and they probably should be.
Glover’s performance style is dramatic storytelling, and she is a compelling storyteller—which, given the difficult nature of the material is essential or one might instinctively look away. She is a performer who does not overdo the theatrical aspects. The staging is simple and effective; a few folding chairs and a table or two which serve as her apartment(s) and the courtroom. There is very little essential movement, so if you are expecting much more than words, this is not the show you want. Glover is simply Megan Shepard telling her story in the first person, without comic relief. She is natural and clear and highly invested in the material.
Because it is a complex story that stretches out over the span of a decade, it feels not tedious but definitely long. Some work could be done on the text to improve the flow; the second half of the story is a bit choppy and episodic, which is distracting. But at no point do you not want to know what happens next.
There is no happy ending to Dead Wrong. It is the opposite of light entertainment. If you can handle the subject matter, however, it is fascinating and informative, and worth seeing—but see it earlier in the evening so that you can follow it up with lighter fare. I think Dead Wrong is a very valuable work, and as heavy and dark and serious as it is, worth the prospect of being disturbed for an hour.
Dead Wrong by Katherine Glover is playing at Venue 3 – Academic Hall on Friday June 15 at 9:30pm, Saturday June 16 at 5:30pm, Sunday June 17 at 3:30pm, Tuesday June 19 at 11:00pm, and Sunday June 24 at 7:30pm.