MARLO'S "CLEVER LITTLE LIES"
Marlo's has another hit brewing at the exact same theatre in New Jersey where she tried out Elaine May's last play that went to Broadway. Here she comes again.
If you go to see Joe DiPietro’s new play at the George Street Playhouse be prepared for some extraordinarily good theater – and an emotional workout.
“Clever Little Lies,” which is having its world premiere, is loaded with racy humor, but the dramatic situation eventually becomes unsettling and it leaves the audience with a lot to think about.
The playwright explores the idea of being content “with the hand you’re dealt” in life. The story involves two couples – Bill and Alice and their son and daughter-in-law, Bill Jr. and Jane, who are new parents. The older couple is played by the veteran skilled actors Greg Mullavey and Marlo Thomas and the younger couple by the talented Jim Stanek and Kate Wetherhead.
The two Bills have just played a tennis match when the son tells the father a secret concerning infidelity.
The father would have been happier in his ignorance, but now he’s stuck with both the secret and with the obligation to keep it from the intuitive Alice.
Despite a hilarious effort by Bill Sr. to act “normal” when he goes home, Alice sniffs the scent of trouble and manipulates Junior and Jane into what turns out to be a tense visit.
When Alice is sure she knows what’s troubling her son and threatening his marriage, she takes a bold and dangerous step and puts her own happiness at risk in attempt to bring him to his senses.
George Street audiences have seen Marlo Thomas in two previous plays, so they are aware that she is adept at both comedy and drama.
However, they may not have realized before now how deep her dramatic resources run.
The climactic scene in this play belongs to her, and she makes the most of it with a chilling performance.
“Clever Little Lies” is presented without an intermission on a stunning set designed by Yoshi Tannokura. The flow of the story is expedited by an effective use of still and moving projections.
The whole production has a seamless unity that draws the audience into the family crisis and holds us there for every second of the ninety-minute program.
Attribute this to the direction of George Street artistic director David Saint, who has a keen sense of what is natural in speech and movement.
DiPietro is a Tony and Drama Desk award winner for “Nice Work If You Can Get it” and “Memphis.’’
Whether “Clever Little Lies” rises to that level of acclaim remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that those who see this production won’t forget it soon.