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National

Review: Staging a True Family Nightmare in ‘Accidentally Brave’

[nytimes.com – 3/25/19]

Some plays are seeds and some are stones.

Seeds are the ones that grow and change over the course of their stage time — and maybe, in the minds of those who see them, forever.

Stones are the ones that always remain exactly what they are. They never expand but can still knock you out.

“Accidentally Brave,” which opened on Monday, is a stone. Not just for us but also for its author, Maddie Corman, giving a riveting performance, mostly as herself. The real-life situation she has endured over the past four years, and replays eight times a week at the DR2 Theater, still hangs on her heart. It may always.

Or as she puts it with ingratiating humor: “Just before we start this journey — oh my God, I hate the word ‘journey’ — O.K., before we start this ‘thing,’ I should let you know I am not O.K.”

The “thing” began, as far as Ms. Corman knew, in the summer of 2015. Driving to a television soundstage in Brooklyn at 5 a.m. to tape an episode of “a semi-terrible TV show,” she received a frantic call from her home in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. While in the background her 11-year-old twin boys cry, her 16-year-old daughter shrieks in terror. Police are there and are “taking Dad’s computer.”

Dad was, and is, Jace Alexander, a director known for his work on “Law & Order.” As BuzzFeed reported, investigators who entered the couple’s house that day recovered files from Mr. Alexander’s devices “that showed minors engaged in sexual acts.”

What happens when your husband of 17 years, your “best person,” your “friend and confidant and true-blue love” — not to mention your children’s father, who sings songs at the piano and listens to NPR — turns out to be a compulsive consumer of child pornography?

“Accidentally Brave” recounts Ms. Corman’s shame and confusion as every prop beneath her warm, stable, suburban life gets knocked out. Nor does the emotional chaos end after Mr. Alexander completes a 45-day rehab for sex addiction and is sentenced, in 2016, to 10 years’ probation. Though he was never accused of touching any child inappropriately, he must also register as a sex offender.

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  1. David

    Hmmm, how to feel about this?? While I cannot point to specific episodes, anyone familiar with “Law & Order” knows all too well that sex offender/child molester/pedophile is a constant and ready “go to” perpetrator for its storylines. So much so, in fact, that the producers created a spin-off, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the voiceover lead-in to which reminds viewers that “In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous.”
    How to feel? Well, years in prison and mistreatment by our “justice system” has left me short on sympathy, especially when considering that for many a season, Mr. Alexander enjoyed lucrative compensation for his “Law & Order” work. How many of us had the financial resources for a defense team whose efforts would result in a 45-day rehab stint and 10 years of probation, going home to his loving – albeit traumatized – family in a scant six weeks?? No, he profited a’plenty using us as his trope. And now Ms. Corman molds the dross of suffering into yet more gold.
    No, indeed, no sympathy here. Knock on some other door.

  2. Eric

    I have mixed feelings. I think it is excellent that the story is getting exposed, and the violent, traumatic way the justice department raids a home is being brought to light, and the lasting damage it does to the family and even the neighbors and all involved. However, reading the comments after the article, I see it has pretty poor reviews and mostly negative comments, so I think she has failed in many ways. The biggest thing that should be brought out is the explosion of CP with the internet. We know the internet is addicting in many areas. The people that game 12 hours a day, shop chronically, get in accidents while looking at social media, want to Shoot up Youtube for demonetizing, people watching conspiracy videos, 9/11 footage, car accidents and such for hours, all these people will look a the person who views CP as depraved and sick. But I had a preconceived idea of CP, too, but when I came upon it I couldn’t believe what I saw. The sophistication of the internet allows it to be very professionally done, the shock lured me in. I was a teacher, I cared for kids, I devoted my life to them, I never did anything inappropriate (And a half dozen polygraphs verified that). But the internet is mesmerizing. I think she should have emphasized that. She stayed with her husband because he was a good man in every other area of his life.
    Also, that he got no jail time makes me wonder about the severity. The article says he was a compulsive user. The only people I know that got light sentences were people with only a small number of images. I think this woman could have done a great service by better exposing the problem of CP on the internet, and how the power of the internet is in large part to blame. How many of us were going to go to bed and ended up sucked into something on the internet until one in the morning, maybe not CP, but it is that similar captivating power of the internet. I would like to see more of this at the public level so the public can become more aware of the truth of it. There are many factors that lead up to a CP offense, and that CP offenses have increased exponentially with the internet can’t be understated, something else is going on. How is it that so many people who are outstanding member of society suddenly becoming sick and depraved with no explanation.

    • Anonymous

      Eric,

      You have done a wonderful job of explaining how someone gets sucked into viewing CP; it is always a good reminder to me of how my husband spiraled down that path and helps to alleviate some of the anger that I continue to feel over all the changes in our lives. He, too, is an all around good person and has always had a very strong moral compass, which made this even harder to understand. Thank you for reminding me how this addiction happens.

      As for Maddie’s story, I am glad that she is drawing some attention to the subject. I also wish that it addressed the CP issue as well as the difficulties of the registry; however, I feel that this is a start in the right direction. She has an instagram account for the play and many well known actors and actresses are going to see it. I tend to think that that will only help our cause. I also saw Maddie on The View promoting the play and I really felt she was walking the political line and didn’t say what she really would have liked to have said. I say that because I dream about speaking publicly about this and her responses are what I have rehearsed rather than what I really want to say!

      Thanks again for the understanding!

      • Eric

        Anonymous, Thank you, I hope you get your chance to go public. Hearing from family members and how they are impacted, and that your husband is a good person, is so important and powerful. Good Luck.

    • Will Allen

      Interesting observations, thanks for the read.

      The only thing I would change is that the polygraphs didn’t verify anything. They don’t work.

  3. Facts shold matter

    High profile stories like this reinforce the notion that everyone with a CP conviction are perverts, predators and pedophiles. Not everyone convicted with this garbage is sexually attracted to children. The really sad part is nobody will ever believe you’re telling the truth. Society really assumes a hell of a lot just from guilt by association without case-by-case context.

    Just reading the comments from that article confirms everything I care to know about society.

  4. Harry

    This not a good message on the behalf of RC’s causes. The public see us as trash and this simplify their desire to fine more trash cans.

  5. Anonymous

    No jail child pornography? Wtf? crazy. lucky bastard.

    • Anonymous

      Our children got through my arrest and the (well deserved) public shaming of it. My wife and I and the kids worked though it, and yes we had community support & help.
      Then I was sentenced to prison. When I came home. My kids were a disaster. Still are. It is so f&@kin painful to watch them suffer.

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