May 2015 Local Theatre Shows

Marlene S. Gaylinn
Marlene S. Gaylinn

THE LIAR
By Marlene S. Gaylinn

Artistic Director of Westport Country Playhouse (WCP), Mark Lamos, states in his program notes that “Lying is actually a big part of how we communicate, and it’s certainly a large part—if not the essential aspect—of all art.”To illustrate his point, the Playhouse is opening its 85th season, with a hilarious comedy by David Ives, called “The Liar.” The production is a composite of 16th and 17th century plays based upon this deceptive art of human expression. Classical elements, such as rhyming couplets, are rendered in the style of Shakespeare, Rostand, Racine, Moliere and in particular, Pierre Corneille’s “Le Menteur”and are cleverly incorporated against a background of French hip-hop music, up-dated period ball gowns, and minimal, picture-book scenery. In short, the play illustrates that the art of lying has not changed since humans developed speech and the writing of classical plays – particularly the ones that are still enjoyed today.

It is natural for normal children to learn to lie as soon as they begin to talk. It’s a technique used by many politicians and lawyers and as current events still show, you might get away with lying if you have mastered how to twist things around and cover-up your mistakes eloquently. Aaron Krohn’s quick-thinking “Dorante,” is one of those eternal, wily characters whose lies will keep you sitting forward in your seat.

“The Liar,” does not have any important lessons to teach. However, I can truthfully say that if you can keep up with the quick pace of Penny Metropulos’ direction and the very clever dialogue, you will be bound to laugh at the mix-up of characters and the convoluted circumstances, which eventually lead to suitable mates.

The entire cast is superb. Kate Mccluggage plays the adorable, sought after “Clarice” and Monique Barbee is her wise friend, “Lucrece.”If the girls’ names sound similar it is only the beginning. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Clarice has twin maids with opposite personalities, and Rebekah Brockman plays both characters, “Isabelle” and “Sabine,” with admirable finesse.The frequent mix-up in the maids’ individual appearances leads to even more confusion. Rusty Ross is Dorante’s valet  “Clinton,” Brian Reddy is Dorante’s believably befuddled father, Geronte. Philippe Bogen is “Alcippe,” Dorante’s rival for Clarice. and Jay Russell plays “Philiste,” his advisor.  

When Clinton begs his Master Dorante for “lessons in lying,” Aaron Krohn gives a funny speech that is reminiscent of Cyrano de Bergerac’s excuse for his long nose. There are many familiar puns to tune into and this is only one example of this enjoyable play.

Plays through May 23                                                          Tickets: 203-227-4177

This review appears in “On CT&NY Theatre” May/2015

March 2015 Local Theatre Shows

Marlene S. Gaylinn
Marlene S. Gaylinn

ON CT & NY THEATRE
By Marlene S. Gaylinn                                
CT Critics Circle / ctcritics.org  March/2015

BAD JEWS
Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT

Like kosher wine or hot dogs you don’t have to be Jewish to thoroughly enjoy this realistic slice of life at Long Wharf Theatre. Heated, family arguments are familiar to us all.  Centering around an argument over who best deserves their late grandfather’s “Chai” (a symbolic piece of jewelry) Josh Harmon’s new play,  “Bad Jews,” also confronts the clashing, philosophical views of the majority of American Jews, and for better or worse, illustrates their rapid assimilation into other cultures and the loss of  identifyable traditions.

The words are cleverly sharp and biting, and Oliver Butler expertly directs this wonderful cast through a series of  intellectual and humorous debates, which directly hit home to many audience members.

Keilly McQuail plays “Cousin Daphna,” a sarcastic, “know it all” whose nasal accent, and facial expressions are hard to beat. A calculating snob you love to hate, Daphna feels more entitled to her grandfather’s “Chai” because, as she loudly declares to her two cousins, “I’m more of a Jew than any of you.” After all, the Vassar senior chatters on, she’s been to Israel, wants to marry an Israeli soldier, carry on the tradition, etc. etc.   Little does this kinky-head realize that like American Jews, the majority of Israel’s citizens are non-religious -- although they have a strong, cultural identity. This is an important, irony to recognize – which unfortunately was not well-brought out in this play about religious fanaticism verses the advancement of a more harmonious One World.

Micheal Steinmetz as “Liam,” presents a powerful, intellectual match against his cousin Daphna’s ultra religious, snobbish, points of view. Christy Escobar is “Melody,” Liam’s bewildered, non-Jewish girlfriend.  Max Miller plays Liam’s younger brother, “Jonah,” who prefers not to get too involved in family arguments but has a hidden surprise.The play’s ending may seem unsatisfying to some, but, it’s certainly something to ponder.

A couple of elderly folks who stayed for the discussion afterwards, criticized the character “Daphna,” for being too much of a stereo-type -- which to me meant that McQuail gave an excellent interpretation. Some viewers objected to the title. For them, “Bad Jews,” implied a Jewish comedy, but this was instead a serious play based on  serious subject matter. This is absolutely true!

Whatever your thoughts on this frank, controversial subject, “Bad Jews” is a thoroughly engrossing play that will certainly stimulate after theatre discussion.

Plays thru: March 22    Tickets: 203-432-1234

Genealogy Drop-In Help

Will you discover royalty in your family?
Will you discover royalty in your family?

Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon
On the Second Level

Do you want to get started on your family history? Or do you know exactly where you're getting stuck and need help. Skilled genealogist, Steve Anderson, can help! He can help you find elusive ancestors' military records, census data, birth certificates and more using Ancestry.com Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and FamilySearch. 

To find him, just come to the Second Level and ask the Reference Librarian for Steve! 

Steve is the president of the Middlesex Genealogical Society

Bunny by the Darien Library Garden

A few weeks ago, the Library planted its first vegetable garden. Since then we've spotted a new friend who is *very* interested in our little garden plot...

The Gift of the Bird Feeder

Find it outside the Holds' area window.
Find it outside the Holds' area window.

This lovely bird feeder is a gift to the Library from Joe and Patty Warren of Wild Birds Unlimited. We're so thankful for this generous gift. Barbara of Readers' Advisory says we'll need to wait a week or so before we'll see birds visiting it.

To see the bird feeder, either come in through the Post Road entrance to the Library and look to the right. Or go into the Holds area behind the Welcome Desk. The bird feeder is visible outside the window. 

What kind of birds do you think we'll see at it this winter? 

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