Monday, March 18, 2013

The Lying Lesson

Whether you are a guest, a speaker, or a show, it's important not to overstay your welcome. As a 90-minute one act, The Lying Lesson might have come across as an entertaining little show. As a leisurely paced two-act play, however, The Lying Lesson offers plenty of time for the audience to ponder its slightness and flaws.

Mickey Sumner, Carol Kane
Photo: Kevin Thomas Garcia
Written by Craig Lucas and directed by Pam MacKinnon, The Lying Lesson imagines Bette Davis moving back to Maine, into a home that comes fully equipped with an assistant-handy person-errand runner, a young woman who has never heard of the world-famous movie star. Davis finds not being known to be a nice change of pace and gradually grows fond of the young woman. What transpires is mildly engaging.

Carol Kane's Bette Davis is surprisingly convincing. With only a hint of Davis' distinctive speaking pattern, Kane evokes Davis without imitating her. Mickey Sumner fares less well, though it is not clear if that is her fault; the role is all over the place, and Sumner seems miscast.

Lucas' writing is occasionally funny but too frequently flabby--it feels like forever until the play actually starts. MacKinnon's sedate pacing underlines rather than mitigates the show's flaws.

The sets by Neil Patel, costumes by Ilona Somogyi, lighting by Russell H. Champa, sound by Broken Chord, and hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe are all effective.

(free ticket; 8th row)

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