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 rooman act she sees as punishing her husband as much as satisfying her own needsbut 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