BWW Review: PERFECT MENDACITY a Dark Delight
It's the rare person who has never told a lie. Who hasn't pondered whether you could train yourself to beat a lie detector? What situation would bring you to lie? Would you lie if saving yourself or your loved one was at stake? Is it possible to craft a perfect lie? In Jason Wells' PERFECT MENDACITY the playwright investigates the realities surrounding deception when a corporate scientist tries to avoid implication after a sensitive memo has been leaked. He has engaged a professional to help him escape implication during his lie detector investigation. Wells' tale of corporate espionage, lies and cover ups, where the past comes back to haunt you as your personal and professional lives collide is darkly funny in all the best ways.
Walter Kreutzer (Kenneth Wayne Bradley) is a microbiologist for a defense contractor. He's also deeply paranoid. Because of an incriminating memo that was leaked to the media his employer is investigating him. Did his Moroccan wife do the whistleblowing? She's certainly passively aggressive about opening old wounds. Is his best friend spying on him? Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. Walter has decided he needs to learn how to defeat a lie detector, to protect himself and his wife, and he needs to be able to do so as quickly as possible. When he contacts D'avore Peoples (Reggie Brown), a polygraph consultant, D'avore's techniques require Walter to look deep inside himself. D'avore forces him to look squarely at his dark secrets as Walter takes this desperate quest toward the perfect lie while trying to avoid an ever increasing spiral into paranoia and possible hard reckoning.
Jason Wells' script is timely with some important issues to consider. In many ways, it is a classic fish out of water story, where one sane character reacts to and is buffeted about by the crazy people who surround him. The twist here is that the usually sane character is paranoid... and that certainly doesn't help his plight. As directed by A. Skola Summers, this Street Corner Arts production, now on stage at Hyde Park Theatre, places the dark humor of the script front and center to marvelous effect. The timing and pacing are perfect. The show switches between locales with minimal transition time and builds in intensity to the surprise conclusion. She's also employed a top notch cast with impressive comedic chops. Rachel Steeds lighting design sets locale and mood perfectly. The fight choreography by Travis Dean is excellent and makes everything completely believable.
As Walter Kreutzer, Kenneth Wayne Bradley handles the dry humor with aplomb. He gives us a realistic portrait of a paranoid while mining the dark humor. He's also a master at the beat behind humor of the reactor. This is a great portrayal of a man wrestling with the truth hidden in the lies he's sold himself. Reggie Brown is wonderfully funny as D'Avore Peoples, imbuing the character with an almost revivalist preacher intensity. Indigo Rael does an impressive job with the accent of the Morrocan wife Samira. She also has impressive comedic timing delivering laughs with a character that hasn't got a sense of humor. Michael Stuart is hilarious as the bumbling friend and the wire scene is absolute comedic gold. Brock England is terrific as Dr. Doll. To say too much about his performance would be a spoiler.
Street Corner Arts consistently delivers the goods with their productions and PERFECT MENDACITY continues their tradition in fine form. For a night out that will make you laugh hard and often while leaving you with a lot to consider, you can't go wrong with this production.
PERFECT MENDACITY by Jason Wells
Running time: Approximately Two Hours including intermission
PERFECT MENDACITY, produced by StreetCorner Arts, at Hyde Park Theatre (511 W. 43rd St, Austin, TX, 78751) Apr. 07 - Apr. 22, 2017. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets: www.streetcornerarts.org or (512) 298-9776.