BWW Reviews: LOT'S WIFE at Kansas City Repertory Theatre

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Kansas City Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Eric Rosen offers a play of his own construction as half of this season's New Works Festival. It is is a clever, ninety-minute, dark comedy titled "Lot's Wife." With apologies to Winston Churchill, this is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, surrounded by a conundrum.

Adam Mace (Rusty Sneary) is an author of and actor in noir genre mysteries for the stage. Adam approaches middle age (40) with increasing frustration. His last successful play is some distance into the rear view mirror. The other male character, Tom Braddle (Adam Poss), is ten years Adam's junior, but shares similar levels of frustration. Tom is also an actor and Adam's former collaborator and romantic partner of more than several years. He fears he too may be through at 30.

The third character is sexy Thalia Swift (Vanessa Severo). Thalia is also an actor, Adam's best friend, and sometime alcohol fueled lover. Thalia complains to Adam of tightness across her chest and begs for medicine. Adam reveals he has been substituting aspirin for Thalia's real heart medication for some time. He waits as nature takes its course and Thalia dies in his arms.

It turns out the audience has been watching a play rehearsal albeit an autobiographical one. The fourth member of our little cast is Joan Kay (Carla Noack), the director and connective tissue for this circular bit of theater. The same scene with variations is acted from the individual viewpoints of each named character and each time a small packet of new information is shared.

Much of Rosen's dialog is very funny and each new perspective / twist makes the situation wryly funnier. Meanwhile in the background Rosen plants undercurrent comments on "show business" and how it can sometimes turn utterly cruel and selfish. I am reminded of Ira Levin's classic caper play "Deathtrap."

Play Director Joanie Schultz is happily blessed with four smart, funny, and dead-on synchronized actors. Each finds his or her path to making this dark, comic melodrama seem fresh each time it cycles through similar material.

"Lot's Wife" can be metaphorically described as akin to an artwork where an artist paints a picture of an artist painting a picture and on the painted canvas is an artist painting a picture and on that artist's canvas is... well, you get the idea. This exact painting ought to exist somewhere, but a quick computer search was not fruitful. The tone is comic "noir" like that of Guy Noir, the faux 40's detective, on NPR's "Prairie Home Companion."

Sets are spare to the extreme. Stage center is a platform on rollers, on it are a few set pieces, and a section of wall with notes posted to it, plus some draperies. Points of view shift with a slight rotation of the main stage platform and small changes to set pieces.

Playwright Rosen's dialog builds to a big, climatic reveal. In deference to the first people who will sit in the audience, the actual resolution will remain unrevealed until you see "Lot's Wife." Curious? Think the best of Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone." It is worth the price of admission.

Tickets for "Lot's Wife" and its companion piece "Fire In Dreamland" are available through May 22 on the KCRep website or by calling 816-235-2700.

Photo Credit - Kansas City Repertory Theater

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From This Author Alan Portner