It’s a rare treat to be among the first to see a Broadway hit in the making, though here in the Hamptons we might sometimes tend to take it for granted. Those who visit the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall in East Hampton will surely be rewarded, and reminded of the East End’s most fortunate status, when they go see Joe DiPietro’s “Clever Little Lies.”
DiPietro’s talent is mighty–he’s won Tony Awards for “Memphis” and achieved critical and popular success with “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and “The Toxic Avenger,” and several others. His newest, “Clever Little Lies,” is exceedingly clever. He’s taken a universal and ages-old subject, infidelity, and managed to dust it off and make it fresh, yet oh so relatable. In fact, the play–which also touches on marriage and the mature relationship, as well as the pursuit of happiness and the never-ending yearning for more, more, more–seems to be tailor-made for a Hamptons audience. His dialogue, especially as delivered by the show’s star, Marlo Thomas, is spot-on.
The crowd-pleasing Ms. Thomas shines in her role as Alice. What most struck me about her performance this past weekend was her impeccable comedic timing. Her pacing was pitch perfect. And it’s clear that she knows how to deliver a line and really stick it.
Her counterpart, Greg Mullavey as her husband, also showed his refined acting chops. The patrician Bill Sr. is good when he’s doling out advice to his adult son Billy (I’m sure it’s just me but I loathe when grown men are referred to in the diminutive–though I know that it’s fitting here to identify Billy as immature–yet it still makes me shudder) but at his very best when he’s relating and reacting to his wife. His body language and facial expressions convey volumes more than words need ever say.
Though the relationship between young marrieds Billy and Jane (Jim Stanek and Kate Wetherhead) is the focus of the action, “Lies” is clearly Marlo’s and Greg’s show. Part of the reason is the star power these two bring, as well as the decades of experience, but it’s also that their two characters are more relatable to a mature demographic. Plus they have the best lines. That’s not to say that Stanek and Wetherhead don’t have ample opportunities to shine.
It’s interesting to note that the entire four-person cast, as well as director David Saint, came to Guild Hall just having finished a run of the same show in December at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where Saint is the Artistic Director. I like it.
Lastly, and this MUST be noted–the sets on this show are beyond spectacular. Major, major props to the guys and gals behind the scenes. Honestly, it’s one of the best-presented stages I’ve seen in a very, very long while. Bravo!