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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

The Lyons


Naomi Jacobson, John Lescault, Marcus Kyd and Kimberly Gilbert
Many writers and great thinkers understand that sharing bloodlines or growing-up experiences with other people is not necessarily sufficient to create family ties. The Lyons, now at Round House Theater in Bethesda, Maryland, assays this phenomenon with both abrasive humor and buried compassion.

Playwright Nicky Silver has examined these themes throughout his career, although The Lyons is the first to place them in a straightforward contemporary milieu and the first produced on Broadway. Longtime Washington audiences will remember Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's productions of earlier, more outrageous Silver works including Fat Men in Skirts and The Food Chain.

Silver here follows four people who crave attention and support from others but aren't sure how to get it. As Ben Lyons (John Lescault) awaits death in his hospital bed, he can only lash out verbally at his self-absorbed wife Rita (Naomi Jacobson), doing her best to maintain a calm fašade; his overwrought daughter Lisa (Kimberly Gilbert), a recovering alcoholic and single mother; and his son Curtis (Marcus Kyd), a gay man who reveals almost nothing about his life.

First of all, Jacobson is a wonder, creating a performance of layers that she gradually peels away. With her sly glances and waspish vocal delivery, Rita may seem petty as she drones on about redecorating the living room—an act she sees as punishing her husband as much as satisfying her own needs—but that's just the scar tissue that has grown around her heart and spirit. She's a control freak and rather selfish, but on some level she does care about her children.

In contrast, Lisa wears her emotions on her sleeve throughout, and Gilbert makes the most of Lisa's almost violent speeches; the scenes between her and Jacobson are explosive. Lescault both amuses and saddens as an impotent man fighting to maintain any relevance in his own life, while Kyd does well enough as a more constrained character.

Misha Kachman's set shifts fluidly between Ben's hospital room and a tiny empty apartment where Curtis confronts his fears. Sound designer/composer Matthew M. Nielson picks up on the undercurrent of yearning by using "Over the Rainbow" as his touchstone throughout.

Round House Theatre
The Lyons
November 27th - December 22 nd
By Nicky Silver
Ben: John Lescault
Rita: Naomi Jacobson
Lisa: Kimberly Gilbert
Curtis: Marcus Kyd
A Nurse: Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey
Brian: Brandon McCoy
Directed by John Vreeke
4545 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD
Ticket Information: 240-5644-1100 or www.roundhousetheatre.org


Photo: Danisha Crosby


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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