A Terrible Lie, Nashville playwright Jim Reyland's latest work, might be his best so far. The credible scenario revolves around a personally conflicted writer desperate to publish his next book, his faithful wife and some of the residents of the retirement home where she works as a nurse. Any more plot details would venture into spoiler territory.
As always, Reyland displays a gift for dialogue, and he moves his audience seamlessly between the couple's apartment and the senior residence, weaving an interesting tale of human weakness and need exemplified by the differing priorities of youth and old age.
The cast, under the direction of Barry Scott, is uniformly excellent. Ross Bolen and Alice Raver deliver sharp, sensitive work in the leading roles, but it's particularly gratifying to experience the performances of longtime Nashville veteran Cecil Jones and Jeremy Childs, the latter on a local stage for the first time in recent memory. Childs is superb in a finely etched portrait of a man with an edge but also a conscience. Jones' wife, Jane Jones, also makes a return to live theater with a convincing and poignant portrayal of Raver's wheelchair-bound, Alzheimer's-afflicted mother. Equally good, only sassier, are Dorothy Robinson and Martha Manning as a pair of senior sisters of indefatigable spirit.
More so than his previous effort Article Four, Reyland's drama seems to have gained a lot through its monthlong workshop process leading up to the opening — not to mention that this script features more realistic characters and plot development, resulting in a more satisfying emotional experience.
Nestled between a beauty parlor and a pet grooming shop, George W. Manus Jr.'s Murfreesboro theater Out Front on Main is a black-box/experimental space, and since early this year Manus has been producing works that would be considered boundary-challenging even in Nashville, let alone the 'Boro. That's ironic, because Manus' latest, David Rabe's In the Boom Boom Room, is a show where a director might push the envelope on the nudity front — if only the 'Boro's codes would allow it. Unlike Music City's, they don't — so Manus has to be careful. But that doesn't stop him from presenting some sexy theater, with scantily clad females inhabiting a lowdown Philadelphia nightclub, where leading lady Megan Blevins — a winsome, shapely MTSU student-actress — portrays Chrissy, a young dancer working out a lot of family-induced neuroses.
Blevins' task is fairly daunting, covering a lot of emotional territory for two and a half hours of mostly pathos. She has her successes, though the show's overall thrust gets detoured by a clunky, poorly conceived set and Manus' occasionally superficial direction, plus some key actors who are out of their league trying to handle Rabe's socially marginalized characters and strange verbal rhythms. Peter Hawkins and more so Hudson Wilkins have their moments as our heroine's oddball suitors, and Buddy Jones achieves some reasonable clarity as her over-the-top gay guy-friend. The meatier — and more suggestive — scenes involve Blevins and Molly Breen, who, as the bisexual veteran dancer, works her darkly smoldering presence to interesting effect.
This Boom Boom Room may be too alien for garden-variety theatergoers, but if you're looking for edgier entertainment, the show provides some worthwhile moments. It runs through Nov. 20; for tickets, call 713-1757.
Kaine Riggan's A Scattered, Smothered and Covered Christmas Musical opened last weekend at his Nashville Dinner Theatre, which recently moved to new digs in Printers Alley. The holiday-themed extravaganza is unrelentingly cornball and relies mostly on community theater players of all ages, types and skill levels. Still, everyone gives 100 percent, and the use of material from noted Music City songwriters adds an air of legitimacy to the enterprise. But mostly the show proves that its star, Three's Company's Joyce DeWitt, is a first-rate professional. Her committed and upbeat work holds the proceedings together, especially through some unpolished scenes that make up a good deal of the sentimental fantasy plot. The all but sold-out opening-night audience was clearly appreciative, and the show continues through Dec. 19. For tickets, call 889-4000.
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
^ It's nice to see an official acknowledgement by management. Kristen Mcarther Miles (the girl…
How ironic that "Vandy radio" gets resurrected as a fictional station?! I was just glad…
Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.