If family dysfunction were an Olympic event, the bunch in Keith Bridges’ “Lie with Me” would have taken home the gold and had its feet up on an ottoman in front of the TV before the rest of the field even got out of the starting blocks. By taking on this piece as their inaugural work, the Mutineer Theatre Company stakes its claim on the word “fearless” with a capital “F.U.”
It would be a disservice to give away what the family’s major malfunction is, but Dad (Christian Lebano) spends his days getting eviscerated by his two daughters. The eldest, Carla (Taylor Coffman) is a sex worker who specializes in burn victims, and the younger, Susan (Amber Hamilton) is a hyper-sexed, über-brat who is hell-bent on revenge. The only thing that nominally keeps them together is Mom (Emily Morrison), who’s in the process of getting off lucky with a fatal brain tumor. Drawn into this maelstrom is Carla’s boyfriend Ian (Jon Cohn), a documentary filmmaker forced to witness the family’s final unraveling.
While the central storyline that Bridges’ script explores here – the hellishly snowballing effects, years after the fact, of a major indiscretion on Dad’s part – are worthwhile, the production seems to let itself get heavy-handed with simplistic choices. That being said, Carla’s final confession of the absolute truth, once all the gamesmanship is set aside, is surprisingly effective. The play will have a different impact on different audience members, but it is, if nothing else, a challenging piece of drama from a daring new theatre company.
“Lie With Me” performs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. at Art/Works Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. 90038, through April 5. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased by calling (323) 9607787 or by going to www.mutineertheatre.com.