Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Los Angeles

Sandra Maria Nutt's
Prevarications: Little White Lies
Contains the Raw Materials for a Good Play

Neeley Ward, Elizabeth del Sol, Sandra Nutt
The plot of this three-character piece surrounds three women of different racial and political backgrounds who share the same apartment. They frequently sit around drinking and discussing political and social issues which include interracial dating, homophobia, nudity on television, creationism/evolution, English-only laws, the deficit, free trade, and the existence of God. Nutt's brisk 75-minute play (including intermission and several lengthy scene changes) doesn't have time to really give any of these topics an in-depth discussion. Instead, the characters each give their opinion on the issue, perhaps comment that the others' opinions are ridiculous, and move on to the next topic. Which is a shame, as the one time Nutt allows her characters' discussion of a single topic (faith) to go on for more than a few moments, the play is instantly more engaging.

But the problem isn't simply that the discussions are superficial. The real problem with the script is that the roommates get involved in these conversations before they have been established as characters. For the bulk of the first act, the audience knows only that these three women are friends. Beyond that, we know little of the characters' backgrounds or their reasons for interacting the way they do. We are simply eavesdroppers on fast-moving conversations among three people who are virtually unknown to us; we have been given no reason to empathize with any of them beyond our own particular political proclivities.

When the more character-driven plot is finally introduced, it is many times more interesting than the political discussions we've been watching. Two of the women are bisexual, and lovers. The third is hyper-sensitive to any joking suggestion that she might be anything but straight. The lovers are also former drug users; the third woman was a runaway. The three have been brought together in the apartment by a man who rescued them - and with whom all three are still in love.

There are many dramatic possibilities inherent in this complex set of relationships, but - as with the political discussions - only the surface is scratched. When one of the women has reduced another to tears (by something she did offstage), the conversation by which they resolve their differences is never shown. Likewise, the women purposely refuse to discuss their common love for their benefactor. This is a fine technique for the first act, to whet the audience's appetite, but no huge confrontation is ever forthcoming. The play is over before it really gets moving - and while, in one way, that may be the point of the play, the audience still feels robbed of the dramatic moments the script promises.

The three-member cast is fairly solid, with Nutt herself and Neeley Ward having the easiest time with the text. Elizabeth del Sol sometimes sounds awkward with her dialogue, particularly when she tells the others their opinions are "absurd," but she is extremely convincing with her physical expressions and silent scenes. John S. Nemeth, Jr.'s set is surprisingly substantial for such a small production, and the production values in general are solid.

Prevarications: Little White Lies has all the elements in place; Nutt just needs to flesh out her script.

Prevarications: Little White Lies runs at the Riprap Studio Theatre in North Hollywood, Saturdays and Sundays through May 2, 2004. For tickets and information, see

Riprap Entertainment presents Prevarications: Little White Lies by Sandra Maria Nutt. David L. Stewart - Lighting and Lighting Design; John S. Nesmeth, Jr. - Assistant to Producer, Scenic Design, House and Stage Manager; Gena Kay - Costume Design, Assistant to Producer; Miss T. Fyya - Musical Supervisor. Directed by David L. Stewart.

Elizabeth del Sol - Julie Tipton
Sandra Maria Nutt - Irene Honeycutt
Neeley Ward - Carol Montgomery

Photo by David L. Stewart

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