Lasso of Truth and Yellow
Lasso of Truth is an incisive, multimedia-embracing drama that centers on two stories told side by side. One is the story of William Marston who lives with two women, his wife and his former student, in the 1940s; they engage in a sexual three-way that includes bondage. The second story is of a modern young woman simply named Girl who is searching for a copy of Wonder Woman's first appearance in print in an attempt to connect to her childhood adoration of Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman on the television series. She meets a man simply called Guy who has this first edition, and she uses her feminine wiles to see this $20,000 comic book. (It should be noted that Wonder Woman makes no appearance in this two hour and half production.)
Kreitzer's drama has a fragmentary structure, with a lot of jumping back and forth between Marston's three-way relationship in the 1930s and 1940s and the modern day story, which is interspersed with the inventor's story. The characters talk more to the audience than to each other. There is a lot covered here, including the history of Wonder Woman, the advent of feminism and the polygraph, cartoon scenes of Gloria Steinem, plus the activities in Marston's household.
At present, Lasso of Truth runs a little too long and some trimming might be helpful as it heads to Atlanta and Kansas City with the possibility of an Off-Broadway production. There are too many passages of throaty, whispered text with no visual action that could be disregarded since they don't advance the story.
All of the actors give splendid performances. Nicholas Rose (co-founder of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) gives an enthusiastic performance as William Marston. Jessa Brie Moreno projects splendid self-confidence and cunning astuteness as the wife. Liz Sklar gives a beautiful sensual performance as the live-in lover in the household, "Amazon." Lauren English is outstanding as the rash, opinionated, sensory Girl in the modern story, matched by John Riedlinger's dazed but enticed Guy.
Outstanding are the visual projections by video designer Kwame Braun, graphic designer Jacob Stolz, and scenic designer Annie Smart. Kwame Braun's comic book projections very attractively overshadow the stage action sometimes, especially the cartoon passage of a digitized Gloria Steinem talking about the rise of feminism in relation to Wonder Woman. These cartoon scenes are beautifully spoken by Jessa Brie Moreno. The lighting effects by Jim French are truly stunning and Callie Floor's costumes are in line with the time periods. Jasson Minadakis' direction is rapid-paced.
Lasso of Truth plays through March 16th at the Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave. Mill Valley. For tickets call 415-388-5208 or visit www.marintheatre.org. Coming up next is August Wilson's Fences, opening April 10 and running through May 11th.
High school football coach Bobby tells how happy he is to have a loving wife Kate (Dana Zook) who is a respective psychotherapist, a high school football star son Dayne (Damion Matthews), and a drama queen daughter Grace (Ali Haas), who wants to be the next Meryl Streep. Grace throws daily tantrums since the son is the star of the household. The audience also meets Grace's gay high school friend Kendal (Maurice André San-Chez), who thinks he is also Broadway bound, too. Kendal is always at the house, escaping his neurotic fundamentalist mother Timothea (Linsay Rousseau) who forbids him to appear in the high school production of Oklahoma!.
Things start to change about midway into act one. Dayne falls ill with liver disease (hence the title of the play) and Kate is forced to reveal a long-held secret to her husband that will destroy the marriage. Kendall is being disowned by his mother, as she thinks he is fully interested in "the devil's work," the theatre. Everyone now has a problem. If this seems like a soap opera, well it's good soap opera done beautifully by an exceptional cast and skillfully directed by Ed Decker.
The cast throws themselves into some of the early scenes with a joyful overkill that you would see in a TV sitcom. They also squeeze out every drop of anguish in the second act. Andrew Nance returns to the stage to excellently play the head of the household Bobby. He displays an intense depth of grief for his son's condition in the second act.
Kate is beautifully played by Diana Kook. In the first act she is a spirited sex mate to her husband and then a woman in a state of far-reaching helplessness in the second act. Newcomer Maurice Andre San-Chez is marvelous playing the fey Kendall who has a secret crush on Dayne. Lindsey Rousseau, in the difficult role of Kendall's fundamentalist mother who does not have a sympathetic bone in her body, is fantastic. Ali Haas is perfect as the thin-skinned Grace who acts like a diva of the American stage. Rounding out the cast is newcomer Damion Matthews who is believable as the doomed son. There is a beautiful touching scene in the second act between Kendell and Dayne that is so tender and touching that it will affect even the most jaded members of the audience.
The marvelous detailed living room set by Kuo-Hao Lo with Dayne's bedroom on the second level nicely signifies the suburban prosperity of the family along with the warmth of Christian Mejia's lighting.
Yellow plays through March 23rd at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave. San Francisco. For tickets call 415-861-8972 or visit www.nctcsf.org. Coming up next is Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays written by various playwrights including Neil LaBute, Jordon Harrison, Paul Rudnick, Doug Wright, Mo Gaffney and Jose Rivera. It opens on March 21 and plays through April 27th.