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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Lying Kind

Playwright:  Anthony Nielson
Venue:  Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, CO, 80918.
Running Time:  1 hours 45 minutes (no intermission).
Date of Performance:  Wednesday, December 10, 2014. 
It's eye rolling, 
knee slapping,
nose snorting,
side splitting....FUNNY! 
The single most important thing you need to know about The Lying Kind is that it is nonstop FUN...delightful, goofy, hilarious entertainment.
That said, though, don't stop reading.  There's more to the story.
It's also British humor.  
I admit to often being somewhat perplexed at British humor (Monty Python aside), which is often proper instead of crass, and wielded with innuendo rather than insult.  The Lying Kind not proper, nor is it inuendo.   Rather, it uses farce, slapstick, "in your face" vulgar insults, and physical comedy.  It's British humor, but unleashed, unfiltered, and uncut.
The plot is simple until it devolves into utterly complete chaos.  Two British police officers (constables, actually), are assigned a grim Christmas Eve task:  notify an elderly couple that their daughter has been killed in a vehicle accident on her way home for Christmas.  Neither Constable Gobbel (Sammie Joe Kinnett) nor Constable Blunt (Steven Cole Hughes) has any appetite whatsoever for delivering such tragic news on Christmas Eve.  The bumbling, fumbling, and nearly brain dead duo make a complete mess of their assignment, leaving a hilarious trail of death and debris in their wakes.  
Steven Cole Hughes (Blunt) and Sammie Joe Kinnett (Gobbel).
Kinnett is no stranger to the Theatreworks stage, having appeared in the wildly funny Servant of Two Masters earlier this year.  Kinnett is a natural; his comedic timing and affinity for physical comedy is near genius.  He uses all his tools here, from his befuddled facial gestures to pratfalls, from elegantly witty comebacks to simple minded observations.  The opening scene is an extended effort by Kinnett's character to ring a doorbell.  Kinnett is a study in hilarious insecurity as he considers all the troubling, perhaps deadly, aspects of ringing the doorbell.  Director Geoffrey Kent even puts Kinnett into slow motion as he approaches and zeros in on the doorbell, hand and finger extended, only to find his finger too short to reach the bell.  Kinnett looks like a football player, diving in slow motion, and landing just short of the goal line. 
Steven Cole Hughes is an able straight man to Kinnett's oddly dim sidekick.  He reacts with confusion, horror, annoyance and anger at every lost effort at cooperation Gobbel can fumble into.  Hughes as Blunt is a study in wasted patience, frustration, and utter disbelief.  Hughes and Kinnett are a magnificent team, each complementing the other as the script descends into self inflicted chaos.  
I've seen Emma Messenger in other plays (here, and here), and she has a gift for making every outing unforgettable.  That said, though, her role in The Lying Kind is unique.  She's the meanest, nastiest man-hating witch to walk the earth, and well deserving of her nickname ("Ball Buster 1").  She shows no sympathy for the law enforcement duo, warning them that she will do terrible things to them if she deems it necessary.  Which she does.  Her takedown of both officers made me squirm in my chair.  She inflicted the kind of personal pain that every man dreads, and she did it to both of them at once.  I thought she'd never let go of them.  Messenger plays the role to the hilt, taking obvious pleasure in inflicting fear and pain in equal measure.  
Billie McBride needs no introduction to Colorado audiences; her distinguished career now includes a Henry Award for Life Time Achievement.  For The Lying Kind, she plays Garson, the mother of the "deceased."  She glows in every scene she does, and she gets some great moments in the script.  Notably, she threatens to lift her skirt to show the police officers her "bum."  I won't spoil the moment, but that scene alone is worth price of admission.  She goes on, in her alternate reality, to end up on the couch in a very compromising position, just as the new Vicar walks in.  Hilarity ensues.  McBride is a special actor, and she gives a very special performance here.
Speaking of the Vicar (Reverend Shandy, played by Julian M. Bucknall), you will see a lot more of him that you might expect.  Bucknall gets perhaps the biggest laugh in the entire show when someone decides he should undress.  Again, not to spoil the story, it's a very memorable moment in a very memorable show.
Director Geoffrey Kent has coaxed spectacular performances from a formidable cast.  Scenic designer Jonathan Wentz has given the cast a beautifully detailed set, with plenty of room for the shenanigans necessary for physical comedy.
The Lying Kind is not your run of the mill Christmas show.  It's dark, it's extremely funny, and it is highly entertaining.  It's one of those rare plays where, in the car on the way home, we were discussing which friends to whom we'd like to give the gift of live theater for Christmas.  It's the kind of show you want to share with those you care about.
If you can get to The Lying Kind by December 21, do so.  It will warm your heart, sort of, and make you laugh.  A lot.  If you want some joy in your holiday season, you know what you have to do.  Get a ticket.
Sammie Joe Kinnett, Steven Cole Hughes.

NOTES:  
The Lying Kind contains strong language and adult situationsParental discretion is advised for those under 16.
There is free parking in the lots around the theater, despite signage indicated it is reserved for UCCS parking permit holders.  
This show closes on December 21, 2014. 

Pre or post show dining suggestion:  
Salsa Brava, Rockrimmon location, 802 Village Center Drive, Colorado Springs, 80919 has an impressive list of awards.  The Rockrimmon location is approximately 10-15 minutes from the theater, depending on weather and traffic conditions.  
Starting with the complementary heated salsa and chips, Salsa Brava is one of the premier Mexican restaurants in the area.  Reasonably priced entrees (my Tacos Al Carbon were $10.99, choice of steak or chicken) and a full bar with Dos Equis Amber and Lager on draft, make Salsa Brava a great pre-show choice.
Photo CreditsTheatreworks.
Tickets HERE.

Creative Team:
Director:  Goeffrey Kent
Stage Manager:  Tim Muldrew
Assistant Stage Manager:  Elise Jenkins
Scenic Design:  Jonathan Wentz
Sound Design:  Alex Ruhlin
Lighting Design:  Matthew Adelson
Costume Design:  Amy Haines
Props Manager:  Roy Ballard

Cast:
Gobbel:  Sammie Joe Kinnett
Blunt:  Steven Cole Hughes
Gronya:  Emma Messenger
Garson:  Billie McBride
Balthasar:  John Windsor-Cunningham
Reverend Shandy:  Julian Bucknall

Carole:  Autumn Silvas

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