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Eric Berger, left, Mary Dziekowicz and Anthony Gabriele star in "The Lying Kind." The Theatre Department will present the Anthony Neilson dark comedy Oct. 17-18 and Oct. 24-26.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Theatre opens season with ‘black farce’
October 15, 2014Tweet
Eric Berger remembers his reaction when he learned that the Theatre Department would stage Anthony Neilson’s “The Lying Kind” as its first production of the 2014-15 MainStage Season.
“We’re doing ‘The Lion King?’” said the sophomore from Riverdale, N.Y.
“That’s what a lot of people said when the show was announced last spring,” director Carol Hanscom said of the play that is anything but Disney-esque. “We wanted to start the season with something rousing.”
For the cast of “The Lying Kind,” the circle of life leads to Great Britain on Christmas Eve. Constables Blunt and Gobbel (played by Anthony Gabriele and Berger, respectively) have to finish their pre-holiday shift by delivering some sad news to an elderly couple. Trying to deal with the unhealthy couple – along with a pedophile-hunting vigilante and others – places the bumbling policemen in the middle of an evening of chaos and misunderstandings.
The show will take place at 8 p.m. Oct. 17-18 and Oct. 24-25, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, in the AC-Chamber Hall. The play, which contains adult content, is for mature audiences only. Tickets (on sale at the Anderson Center Box Office) are $14, general admission; $12, faculty/staff/seniors; and $8, students.
“The Lying Kind” is a “black farce,” Hanscom said. The show offers extreme situations and physical humor while dealing with serious issues, such as death and dementia.
“When I read ‘The Lying Kind,’ I thought: ‘This one is for me to direct,’” said Hanscom, a University acting instructor. “My favorite genre of theater is dark comedy. It plays into my sense of humor.”
The cast members, who said they were initially unfamiliar with the show, were attracted by the comedy that develops from the misunderstandings and complications, as well.
“I was cracking up reading the script,” said Rob Tendy, a senior from Putnam Valley who plays the Rev. Shandy. “Every page is tossing you curveballs. It’s a roller-coaster ride for sure.”
“My first impression was that it was so scandalous,” Berger said. “It’s a farce, so it has to be. But this goes above and beyond.”
Cast members emphasized, though, that the show has deep meaning. For example, Tendy said the title isn’t referring to “the kind of people who lie.” Instead, it translates to “kind people who are lying to remain kind.”
Berger agreed: “It’s a lot of white lies that culminate to form a black comedy,” he said, drawing “wows” and “oohs” from his castmates. “I just thought of that!” Berger responded.
The cast camaraderie was further on display when Berger and Gabriele pumped fists and cheered when discussing how the show’s characters speak in Cockney accents.
“The accent isn’t as tough as making it understandable,” said Gabriele, a junior from Fairport, N.Y. “Carol is always saying ‘consonants, consonants.’ What I’m thinking about is enunciating.”
“The easiest way to learn the accent is by hearing people who actually speak it, whether it’s on YouTube or the movies,” said Lisa Stockman from Wantagh, who plays Garson.
While the Cockney accents add authenticity to the show, Hanscom said the key to success goes back several months: casting.
“If you cast a show well, the director’s job is so much easier,” she said. “That’s number one. Then we get together and play.”
The freedom to “play” from Hanscom is just one thing the cast members said they appreciate.
“Carol allows us to stretch our imaginations and do whatever we think of,” Tendy said.
“I come to rehearsal every night looking forward to working with all of these people and interacting with them on and off stage,” Stockman said. “It’s been a great experience.”
With accents in place and rehearsal time ending, Hanscom said she knows what needs to happen next.
“My biggest job is staying out of their way and letting them play,” she said. “It’s now a matter of me stepping back, letting them go and not directing them too much.”