Monday, December 9, 2013

We Wish You a Crummy Christmas

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“The Lyons” a Dysfunctional Family for the Ages

By Skip Sheffield

So you think you are from a dysfunctional family? Go see “The Lyons” presented by the Women’s Theatre Project through Dec. 22 at the Willow Theatre of Sugar Sand Park, 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton, and you may feel better about your own situation.
“The Lyons,” written by Nicky Silver, puts the “diss” in dysfunctional.
Father Ben Lyons (Kevin Reilly) is on his deathbed, dying from cancer. Ben is not filled with gratitude for a long, fulfilling life. His attitude is summed up by the “F word” he uses constantly.
Mom Rita Lyons (Jessica K. Peterson) is not much better. In fact she is worse: the archetypical overbearing, suffocating, selfish and unfeeling Jewish mother. Jessica K. Peterson’s bleakly hilarious rendition of the ultimate bad mom is the best thing about this show. We won’t spoil any surprises, because Rita regularly surprises us. Just when you think she couldn’t possibly be more callous and cruel, she tops herself.
Then there are the “kids.” Son Curtis (Matthew Korinko) is a writer of short stories that no one wants to read. He is an insecure gay guy with a boyfriend named Peter, but Peter is far from ideal. We find out how far in Act Two, which is almost like a different mini-play.
Daughter Lisa (Jacqueline Lagy) has more common problems. Her former husband was physically abusive, yet she continues to return for more. Lisa is a recovering alcoholic, but soon to backslide. Dad blames Lisa’s alcoholism on her lousy choice of a partner. Lisa points out they met at an A.A. meeting. It’s a funny line. Ha-ha.
The laughs are bitter and far between.
A tart-tongued nurse (Carolyn Johnson) gets in some good zingers in Act Two. For all his foul-mouthed negativity, dad is a crusty cuss who speaks his mind regardless of consequences, prompting shock-value kind of gasps and chuckles. Clay Cartland brings some melodramatic kick to Act Two as an actor trying to be a real estate agent.
“The Lyons” was a 2012 Broadway debut for playwright Nicky Silver, who specializes in caustic wit. It’s the kind of play some New Yorkers love, and since we have our share of transplanted New Yorkers, it may well find an audience at Willow Theatre. Just be forewarned this is not “I Remember Mama” or “Father Knows Best.” This is family functioning as warfare.
Tickets are $25. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call 561-347-3948 or go to www.thewomenstheatreproject.com.


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