It was a pleasure to have watched Sam Shepard’s play Lie of the Mind at The Theatre at Patterson Park on Friday, July 20.
Director George W. Manus Jr. did a masterful job at?executing a combination of hereditary insanity and mutual antagonism, with the eight actors playing out a heart-wrenching story of domestic violence, physical violence, sexual overtones and verbal abuse.
Jeff Harr as Jake, a wife-beating alcoholic, comes across as the person you want to whip, which does happen?to him toward the end by his brother-in-law. Getting what he deserves, he needs more help than he is being given, and Jeff played this character very methodically.
His wife, Beth, portrayed by actor Raemona Little Taylor, was the shining star of this program, her abilities and talent were most rewarding as the beaten wife, whose brain damage from the beating gave her lapses and dialogue that one almost had to interpret.
Susanne Tenpenny, as?Jake’s mother, coddled?her “baby,” who was actually the oldest of?her three?children, to?the point that you wondered if she wasn’t just as sick as he was. “Lorraine” acted like a spacy California cadet mother, and Susanne played this out excellently . . . I know some spacy California cadet mothers.
The best delivery of the entire play was a lengthy?(the production itself ran three hours) conversation between Lorraine and her daughter, Sally, portrayed by Erin Greene, in Act II. This dialogue gave you the insight just to see how deep domestic violence and verbal abuse really runs in this country. Miss Greene was?great at playing the sister of Jake, and you wondered, too, at times if there wasn’t?something going on between brother and sister.
Wolfgang Boehm starred as Frankie, Jake’s eccentric brother, who has a crush on Jake’s wife, goes to see her at her home, and ends up getting shot by her father. Frankie spends most of the time on the couch or on the floor during the play, but Wolfgang does a good job at being the go-between?with these two loony families.
Beth’s family I saved for last simply because I?had a hard time swallowing when the lights were on them. They reminded me somewhat of my own family when I was a kid. Loudmouthed father Baylor, (Dwayne Douglas) was the epitome of my own dad, bossing the wife, treating the son like an idiot, and ignoring his daughter’s problems. This?gun totin’ man loves deer hunting and having his feet rubbed more than he loves his family. Mr. Douglas?is wonderful and believable and I hope to see him?in more shows around town. His wife, Meg, is actor Tami Crumpler, who has been behind the scenes for many plays around town and showed her true colors in this production as an abused wife.
Baylor and Meg’s son, Mike, played by Anton Minter, loves the gun as?well, and from all attempts, will end up just like his father. But bagging two deer and a bad human in one day takes talent, but you can tell he is probably the only sane person in either family.
Mr. Manus takes on every form of abuse and violence that touches our family circles today with this work, and whether he meant to or not, even a little?racial abuse was implemented in this well done play. Forget the sparse props on the stage, the actors took care of what they were conveying to the audience.
My only complaints, and I hope this is not a regular thing with Patterson Park, was?the theatre temperature (it was so cold you could notice several actors were freezing), the extreme rudeness?of an employee in the Center using the intercom system while actors were delivering lines and the empty seats in the theatre. Other theatres in town play to packed audiences, and Patterson Park needs to advertise more. I only wish I could have reviewed the play for The Pulse in time for our readers to have gone to see it while it was in production.