The Lyons Review - The Family that Roars Together

Talented playwright Nicky Silver nailed it. This has to be one of the funniest peaks at a dysfunctional family in a long time. And director Scott Alan Smith was undoubtedly on the same page. The riveting repartee is brilliantly timed to create a symphony of foibles that can only exist in that nucleus we call a family. The cast also digs right into the meat of the play, offering the audience a hilarious but also sobering view of a group of people engaged in a love/hate quartet.

Judith Scarpone and James Handy - Photo by Michele Young

Rita (Judith Scarpone) and Ben (James Handy) have been married for a very long time and have raised two children in the process, Lisa (Verity Branco) and Curtis (Chad Coe). It’s just possible that there may have been a few rocky moments in the marriage. But the end of the coupling is nearing.

Chad Coe and Judith Scarpone - Photo by Michele Young

Ben is spending his few remaining weeks of life in a hospital bed, terminally ill with cancer. Joining him in this sterile room is Rita, his long-suffering wife. Both await the arrival of their grown children, Lisa and Curtis. Sound like a sad scenario? When the Lyons go at it, you almost feel guilty as you struggle to maintain a straight face and keep the laughter at bay. Act I is an exhilarating and sidesplitting view of a family at a crossroads.

Verity Branco and Judith Scarpone - Photo by Michele Young

But prepare yourself for a change of scene in Act II. This comical crowd is suddenly presenting a very different face as awkwardly gay son Curtis exposes his vulnerability – and ends up making a real mess.  Comedy becomes tragedy of sorts – but still offers insightful laughs in the process.

Kris Frost and Chad Coe - Photo by Michele Young

How this complex turnaround happens is the point of the play. The audience is on a roller coaster taking a moving journey through the parameters of your “average” family at work. It’s just possible that some audience members may have a déjà vu experience.

Verity Franco and Judith Scarpone - Photo by Michele Young

The talented actors have just the right amount of caustic wit going for them as they navigate these troubled waters. Kudos to director Smith for keeping this pitching boat on course through its trip. Sarah B. Brown’s scenic design is near perfect as it cleverly folds in on itself to produce two entirely different sets on one small stage. Derrick McDaniel’s lighting exhibits the subtle changes that go along perfectly with the shifts in perspective inherent in the piece. The entire production team has worked wonders in making THE LYONS a success. This is a show that shouldn’t be missed. It has enough laughter – and a few tears – to keep everyone guessing what’s next. THE LYONS is black comedy at its best.

SPLASH SELECTION

THE LYONS runs through July 16, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Road on Lankershim is located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets are $34 ($17.50 for seniors and students). For information and reservations, call 818-761-8838 or go online

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