Carpenter Square’s “Clever Little Lies” Abounds with Clever Humor
Joe DiPietro is an award winning playwright as well as a favorite for Carpenter Square audiences. His imaginative “Clever Little Lies” is just as funny as it is clever; slightly shocking, simple but thought-provoking and hilarious all at the same time. It takes a creatively oriented director and Rhonda Clark shines through her great cast of four talented actors.
“Clever Little Lies” is a story of family and love reminding us that love is unconditional but marriage takes work and commitment. “Clever Little Lies” begins with a locker room scene between a father and son just following an energetic tennis match. Bill asks how the new baby and wife are doing and his son, Billy, confesses that his unhappiness in his marriage is revealed by his joy in another. This secret must be kept at all costs! Bill Sr. vows to keep the secret, but warns that with mother of the family such secrets are never hidden forever. When Bill returns home his wife, Alice, immediately realizes that something is wrong and after a few false starts jumps to the correct conclusion. She calls daughter-in-law, Jane and insists that the young family come over for cheesecake that evening. And in the course of the evening she must determine how to deter Billy from continuing an illicit affair without revealing the affair to Jane, or even her own knowledge of the illicit romance. The result is an incredible dance between the two generations.
As the play begins one is immediately struck by the excellent and natural appearing set. Ben Hall is noted for his set designs and “Clever Little Lies” is a wonderful example of simplicity in design allowing a complicated story to be told smoothly. Jay C. Schardt creates a homelike atmosphere for the home, and the slightly institutional gritty feel to the locker room area is enhanced by the starker lighting. Clark has assistance in sound design from Stage Manager Michael Tull as well as handling the costumes for the show.
For every comedy timing is essential for the humor to be appreciated and that requires skilled performers. The cast of four are all accomplished in the area, and, as a result, “Clever Little Lies” flows while facilitating the humor. Chris Crane leads the foursome as Bill Sr. a successful patriarch with a successful son, and a loving and quirky wife. Mary Sue Backus is Alice, and her unusual way of extricating the family from the current dilemma is fraught with perilous possibilities. Pat Meirick is Billy, the young father who feels a little overlooked, as new fathers often c. Katy Hayes is the loving young wife and mother who is wrapped up in motherhood and perhaps a little too secure in her husband. The baby appears on stage only when she is asleep in the arms of mother and grandmother but is heard to cry off stage, an opportunity for her parents and grandparents to affect an escape from a situation becoming dangerously difficult and awkwardly funny.
Crane is a pro, and his range of expressions is profound. Backus creates a look of devious innocence that confounds her fellows. Meirick is transparent; he has obviously been extremely lucky that his secret has yet to be revealed and his haplessness is quite humorous. Hayes exuberance as a beautiful young mother is refreshing, and her gaiety is infectious. The interplay between the couple reinforces the idea that men can be pretty dumb, and we can’t wait for him to be found out. Crane and Backus are obviously the mirror-image of the couple, situationally, and the wisdom from their eyes enhances their humor.
“Clever Little Lies” plays through July 20, 2019 and is a delightful release and relief for anyone who is married, has been married or contemplating marriage. The pitfalls are worth it and the laughs go on so visit Carpenter Square for the last show at this location, 800 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City. Next season the new digs at 1009 W. Reno will present another great year! Visit www.carpentersquare.com for information and tickets or call 405-232-6500. The box office email is firstname.lastname@example.org.