Playwrights have a lot of fun with dysfunctional families and The Lyons which opens at TAS Hoskins Centre this weekend has it in spades.
Nicky Silver has written this black comedy with faint echoes of the bitter humour of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf and Neil Simon’s trick of confining people to a small space and waiting to see what happens.
The Lyons do not disappoint as Ben (David Trestrail) lies dying of cancer in a hospital room while his wife Rita (Lisa Quast) flicks through a magazine for ideas on redecorating the sitting room.
Expletives are not deleted as Ben defends the existing décor and forbids any changes and she suggests he take a more positive attitude to dying.
Then there are the kids, Lisa (Valerie Dalton) and Curtis (Matthew Whittington) who have not been informed about their father’s impending death.
Lisa is an alcoholic and refugee from an abusive marriage and Curtis is gay, alienated from his father who is a homophobe.
But all gathered in the hospital room there is no doubt the Lyons are a family, a disappointed one but nevertheless four people who once had some vision of something better,
The stereotypical bulwarks of happy families, love, trust, support and loyalty, fall like bowling pins as the Lyons battle it out in lightening quick dialogue while insults fly and feelings are hurt, at times breathtakingly so.
Some exchanges are laugh out loud funny.
In the end there is no real resolution but Rita, the glamour-puss, has already sorted herself out with a younger man and no real expectation of happiness while the kids come to terms with their demons.
Director Mark Bourne is up to the challenge of such a witty, wordy play, keeping the dialogue flying and the actors defending their positions with such sincere outrage, it’s at times a bit like Wimbleton with the brats on the court.
It’s always good to see an ensemble production where the cast, including Katya Gladiadis as the nurse and Tomas McDougall as a real estate agent, work so well together and give such excellent performances that the play shines out.
For bookings to see The Lyons, visit the website www.adms.org.au.
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