There are so many good actors in Rhode Island and not enough good parts to go around.
The good news is that many of the actors have joined together, including a group that call themselves “Rumble,” to give us the opportunity to see more good theatre. Rumble is using the space at Providence’s Perishable Theatre to present a powerful performance of Sam Shepard’s classic, “A Lie of the Mind.”
Directed by Jimmy Calitri, who gave us the equally powerful “Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” last summer, the gritty play features some of the same actors, plus veterans who have performed on other stages, including 2nd Story Theatre.
A simple set, signifying rooms in two Midwestern homes, is sufficient background for this character-driven play to succeed with the strength of some terrific ensemble acting. The three-act play is also enhanced by the music of The Reminders (Taryn Mallard-Reid and Timothy Reid), who also perform before the play begins and in between acts.
At the center of the story is Beth (Bonnie Griffin), a young woman who is beaten to the point of brain damage by her out-of-control husband Jake (Ara Bohigian). Her brother, Mike (Jason Almeida), cares for and protects her, bringing her to her parent’s home. Her parents are the epitome of what a dysfunctional family represents. Vince Petronio’s portrayal of her uncaring redneck father is classic. You’ll love to hate him, as Shepard has given him some great lines to run with…and run off his mouth he does. His poor verbally abused wife (Emily Lewis) manages to survive and has her moment at the end.
Rae Mancini plays Jake’s mother, the overprotective matriarch of the other dysfunctional family who can’t deal with son Jake or daughter Sally (Alanna Sousa-Pullan), who has an unusual relationship with her brother.
Meanwhile, Jake’s brother, Frankie, runs off to find Beth to assure his brother that his wife is not dead. We won’t tell you what happens then, but it is quite a rumble.
If I have completely confused you, stop reading and just go see for yourself what a great group of actors can do with a hard-hitting, tough but entertaining play by one of America’s great playwrights. While the characters are a bit bizarre, they raise some of life’s great questions.
What is the truth? What is true love? What does it mean to care?
Fuzzy memories and family secrets cloud current issues and make people uncertain about the truth and the “lie of the mind.”
“A Lie of the Mind” is being performed at Perishable Theatre, 95 Empire St. in downtown Providence through Sept. 11. Tickets are $20, $15 for students. Call 741-0851 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.