BWW Reviews: OTHER DESERT CITIES Sizzles on Opening Night
Other Desert Cities is about a stereotypical upper-class, "waspy" family and what turns out to be their very tragic past. The show begins with the Wyeth adult children and parents coming home from a morning of tennis. As they walk into their picturesque living room, the audience is instantly transported into their world due to the additional character that Brian C. Mehring (Set Designer) created. The living room itself displays the image that the Wyeth family thought they had to portray in order to excepted in their socioeconomic class, in this case, plain, simple, and collected with only white and brown colors used. Little did we know that they were about to spiral out of control. The entire production team embodies the same unraveling imagery that the set design lays out. This can be seen in hair, costume and acting. When the family starts to unravel so does their hair, clothing and ultimately their identity.
Now that the stage is set we can move on to the heart of this production, which is the acting. This show takes place with only one set so the wise decision of the original writer and the current director is to showcase the performances unfolding. It is a 5 member cast and if even one was not on their A-game the whole show would have fallen apart. The mother, Polly Wyeth played by Amy Warner, was the best acted family member. All the different emotions she goes through in this play were played to perfection and the audience could feel every one of them.
The difference between the rest of the cast and Warner is that there were moments for the other characters that took me out of the world I was supposed to be in. Its hard to explain what it was, sometimes an emotion was played too much and other times it was played too small. The entire cast had great moments though. I totally bought Dennis Parlato (Lyman Wyeth) as an old Hollywood actor and now politician. Ryan Wesley Gilreath (Trip Wyeth) brought much depth to his playboy-esque, Hollywood producer, sex addict middle age man. And my favorite moment in the whole show was a huge climax that Sara Mackie's character (Brooke Wyeth) reaches and one that I do not want to spoiler for you. But it was acted perfectly and made the entire house go so quiet that you could hear a feather hit the floor.
This show has so many emotional moments (about 3-5 for each character) that it would have felt too heavy without the brilliant comedic relief of Dale Hodges (Silda Grauman) as the alcoholic, recently sober sister of Polly.
What this comes down to is that the themes of honesty vs loyalty, seeking the truth vs protecting loved ones are all felt and brought forth in the way that Jon Robin Baitz would have wanted. Definitely go see this show before it is too late.
Other Desert Cities runs from September 4-22 (Tuesday - Thursday 7:30pm; Friday & Saturday 8:00pm; Sunday at 2pm and 7pm) at the Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. Directed by Dr. Lynn Meyers.
Photo Credit: Ryan Kurtz