Front Row Center – November 2018

Front Row Center

By Michael Warren

Clever Little Lies
By Joe DiPietro
Directed by Collette Clavadetscher

 front row

This play is described as a comedy, but it’s really a sad commentary on love and marriage. One of the characters says that the “pursuit of happiness” is the source of our problems – we think that we have a right to be happy. Just settle for what you have, and call it happiness. Joe DiPietro is a skilful author, and the play moves along at a good pace, but I wouldn’t call it a comedy. It’s a family drama.

Collette Clavadetscher has a good cast, and she has them playing realistically. There are no double takes or pregnant pauses, which reduces any comic effects, but makes the play more meaningful and dramatic. In the opening scene Bill Sr (played by Zane Pumiglia) and his son Billy (played by Donny Bryant) are changing in the locker room after a game of pickleball. We are told that Bill won the game rather easily, which seems unlikely, but then we discover that Billy’s mind is on other things.

Actually he is having a passionate affair with a very attractive 23-year-old female personal trainer at his gym club. All this while his young wife is at home looking after their new baby girl. Zane Pumiglia and Donny Bryant play this scene well, with Zane looking suitably confused and embarrassed by this unwelcome news. They deliver their lines without any gaps or pauses while dressing and tying a Windsor knot in their ties – quite an achievement! Donny Bryant is a newcomer to the stage, and he does a great job with an unsympathetic part.

Then the scene shifts to the home of Bill and his wife Alice. Although Bill has been sworn to secrecy by his son, Alice has no difficulty worming the dreadful truth out of him. What can she do? Of course the young couple must come over for coffee and cheesecake. Barbara Pruitt lights up the stage as soon as she comes on, and is entirely believable as the bossy and very clever Alice. There’s a scene with Billy and his young wife Jane in the car, with baby Emily in the back seat, on their way over. I felt that this scene was too long – however, it did establish Jane’s obsession with her baby. It also contained a lot of swearing and cursing. Actually the whole play uses the F word as a normal adjective, by all the characters young and old. Jane is sweetly played by M.A. Bruneau, also in her first appearance at LLT. I hope that we will see her again, perhaps in a more demanding role. At the end of the play, Alice reveals that twenty years ago, while married to Bill, she had a love affair with a young student. Although she remembers him fondly, she’s glad that she gave him up and stayed with her rather boring husband. Is this true, or is it a clever little lie? The author leaves the question open.

Congratulations to Collette and her cast and crew for bringing us a professional production of this sad comedy. Not many laughs but a lot of food for thought. Finally I must mention the amazing set designed by Sherron Brackenbury, and the clever use of the rotating stage. Debra Bowers was Stage Manager and Sherron Brackenbury was also her Assistant. Next up is “Proof” a drama by David Auburn, which opens on October 19.

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Ojo Del Lago
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