Terry Vandivort, Austin Tindle and Kristen McCullough in&nbsp;<em>The Lyons</em>&nbsp;at Uptown Players

Review: The Lyons | Uptown Players | Kalita Humphreys Theater

The Lyon Game

Misery loves a laugh in Nicky Silver's fiercely funny The Lyons at Uptown Players.

published Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Photo: Mike Morgan
The Lyons at Uptown Players

Dallas — If you think your family is dysfunctional, get on over to Uptown Players’ regional premiere of The Lyons, Nicky Silver’s fiercely funny 2012 Broadway hit about the final unraveling of an already frayed family when the father is hospitalized with terminal cancer. How is this comic? People who hate each other can be terribly clever, and this clan draws blood and laughs as naturally as breathing. Sound familiar? Director Bruce R. Coleman and his expert ensemble deliver every razor-sharp barb in Silver’s hilariously charged dialogue, while also revealing the tender and vulnerable innards of his word-armored characters.

Ben Lyons (a thin and furiously energized Terry Vandivort) is dying of cancer in a private hospital room in New York City, recreated in all its hard light and bland décor by set designer Kevin Brown. When Ben rouses himself from the morphine drip, his wife Rita (Georgia Clinton) is flipping through magazines and babbling about redecorating the living room in “ice blue,” even though “you wouldn’t actually be there to see it.” He tells her to f*** off, that he prefers the old sofa, with its “washed out shade of dashed hopes.” Silver’s sudden poetry pierces as deeply as his immaculate insults. We all remember that sofa.

Back and forth they go, each deeply aware of the other’s soft spots after 40 years of a bad marriage. Both hit the mark with an accuracy that makes you laugh and wince at once.   “I’m dying, Rita,” Ben pleads. “Try to remain positive,” she replies, with her triumphant smile, and in her terrifying, take-charge voice.

Photo: Mike Morgan
Austin Tindle and Christopher Deaton in The Lyons at Uptown Players

Their daughter Lisa (a tremulous, tightly-wound Kristen McCullough), a single mom and recovering alcoholic, is an easy target for her mother.  On arrival, she is promptly jabbed about her clothes, the plant she brought, and her failed relationships. Ruthless Rita even goes after her absent grandson, suggesting he might be the R-word.

When their gay son Curtis, (a sarcastic and touchingly vulnerable Austin Tindle), shows up, homophobic Ben greets him with cold hostility, cursing his son’s awkward attempt at reconciliation. Ben wanted Curtis “to be a man’s man,” like his own idolized late father.  Rita points out that, in fact, Curtis is just that.

The play builds to a crisis in the second act when Curtis’s desperation and self-deception are made stunningly concrete when he meets up with a real estate agent (a masculine, smooth-talking Christopher J. Deaton) in an empty apartment he pretends he wants to lease. The double-edged secrets revealed in this haunting scene get to the heart of Curtis’s sad insecurities, leaving him bruised in more ways than one. 

Clinton’s Rita is a smart-mouthed battle-hardened veteran of a long, miserable marriage to a man she never loved. A handsome matron, smartly costumed in Suzi Cranford’s designer jackets and good pumps, she sees her husband’s imminent death as her ticket to abandon the thin façade of any family unity, and fly away, leaving all baggage behind.

Her children, who believe they know their mother’s noxious but dutiful game, are shocked out of their accustomed roles as victims of an awful upbringing. So, where do we go from battered and delusional?

The last sharply delivered scene, while hardly a cathartic epiphany, gives us a glimpse of hope for the hapless. Curtis testily shifts his sore body, and bravely asks the name of the wisecracking cranky nurse trying to feed him. It’s a start. You’ll laugh till it hurts. Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
The Lyon Game
Misery loves a laugh in Nicky Silver's fiercely funny The Lyons at Uptown Players.
by Martha Heimberg

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :