The family that lies together…
By turns profoundly sad and cathartic, Lie with Me, Mutineer Theater‘s debut production at Artworks Theater in Hollywood, is a bracing, in-your-face look at a splintered family’s bleak secrets as one member, the mother (Emily Morrison,) lies comatose in a hospital bed upstage throughout the entire play, bearing (mostly) silent witness to her husband’s and two daughter’s emotional brawl.
Jon Cohn, Mutineer’s artistic director and a company founder, plays Ian, a documentary filmmaker who is in a relationship with Carla (Taylor Hoffman,) the subject of his current project (which he dreams of seeing picked up by HBO) about a woman who is paid to have sex with men afflicted with physical birth defects. Called home to see her dying mother, Carla tangles with her estranged sister, Susan (Amber Hamilton,) and father (Christian Lebano,) as they come to grips with the specter of incest.
Not an easy subject to tackle– and tackle is the perfect term for what the cast does. Cohn’s (relatively) decent, everyman character is swatted back and forth among them like a dazed tennis ball. With scalpel-sharp dialogue, the blackest humor and Joe Banno’s pitch-perfect direction, the night I saw it a sold-out audience hung on every ugly word flying between the characters, an evening filled with emotional warfare. Somehow, it was uplifting.
If a line like this, about the emptiness of life, appeals to you, “The emptiness is what’s important. It’s all we really have. It’s not about filling it up,” then this play is for you.
And if Edward Albee, Neil LaBute and Tracy Letts are your cup of scalding tea, then Lie with Me‘s playwright Keith Bridges will add new shadows to your dark world.
Lie with Me, final performances April 3-5, this Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 7 PM. Artworks Theater, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038