by Josephine Cashman · August 18, 2015
Teri Monahan, Jerry Chapa | Schnele Wilson, Urban Topaz
Reading Between the Lies, produced by the Endangered Artist Sanctuary, is a noirish comedy about a murder at a producer’s Park Avenue apartment in the 1940s. It turns out to be more Agatha Christie than Noir, but nonetheless it is a charming Whodunit. It’s playing at Lynn Redgrave Theatre, a terrific space that has its own fascinating and unique challenges, and the cast is more than up to the creative task.
Kelly Barrett pulls double duty as both the writer and the character Gwen. She is an actress who gleefully banters with her estranged husband, who’s also engaged to a ingénue from Indiana. More ridiculous complications are clearly imminent. Gwen also has a frenemy Kitty, a retired actress who still can’t resist the urge to cause a scene whenever she can. Played by Teri Monahan, she comically chews the scenery, as does Wende O’Reilly. She portrays Betty Blue, the deranged older woman who still believes she is a Shirley Temple-esque child star. Her arrested development is, well, arresting. The likeable cast includes a seductive Anna Wallace-Deering and amiable Christopher Romero Wilson. The rest of the players form a motley group of characters who all have something to hide in their own kooky ways. As the “giggle water” flows, many find it hard to keep their secrets under wraps; In vino veritas. The running gag that an actor is consistently mistaken for a waiter is very, very funny.
There is a great deal of exposition in the script that director Schnele Wilson could probably have handled with more grace and aplomb, and the pace and timing are off; if they were tighter, the play’s acerbic wit would be clearer, and would quickly turn an appreciative chuckle into a full blown laugh. The set is cleverly crafted to suggest a lush, old school apartment - a hard feat to achieve in a festival setting. The mystery itself isn’t too hard to figure out, and while it’s a bit of a disappointment, it doesn’t become a deterrent.
Be that as it may, the quibbles I have are just that - quibbles. I had a lot of fun watching Reading Between the Lies. It is a cool, enjoyable way to spend a hot summer day.