Cadence Theatre’s ‘A lie of the Mind’ had me sucked in from the start
Read More: Alexander Sapp, Anna Johnson, Cadence Theatre Company, Justin Sease, Landon Nagel, Lauren Leinhass-Cook, Maura Burroughs, McLean Jesse, Michael Goodwin, Rich Manson, RVA theatre, Tamara Johnson, VA Rep
I walked out of the A lie of the Mind in a haze of delusion. It’s strange… the play gave me the experience of being stuck some sort of of surreal chaotic love-limbo as Sam Shepard’s three-act masterpiece was ferociously brought to life by the folks at the Cadence Theatre Company.
It had me sucked in from the start. Director Anna Johnson has a true talent for identifying and bringing the pure action from the script, through her actors, and into her audience. And it’s even more satisfying when you can tell the ensemble fully respects the material and their craft.
The play follows Jake (Landon Nagel) and his wife Beth (McLean Jesse) and each of their families.
We start the play and Jake is running away to his brother, Frankie (Alexander Sapp), because he thinks he just beat Beth to death. Frankie wants to go to Beth’s family to find out if she’s ok, so he leaves Jake in the hands of his sister, Sally (Maura Burroughs), and mother, Lorraine (Tamara Johnson). Beth, however, is barely alive, struggling to piece words and thoughts together and starting the process of regaining her health with the help of her brother, Mike (Justin Sease), and later on the help of her father, Baylor (Michael Goodwin), and mother, Meg (Lauren Leinhass-Cook).
Now I’ve used the word “help” a lot, but I don’t want to mislead you. I’m pretty sure no one helped anyone do anything good by the end of the play. The hardest part about watching the production was seeing each character defend – tooth and nail – their delusional points of view while achieving nothing but a familial catastrophe.
Rich Manson’s set structure was a beautiful, huge wall of wood. It perfectly captured the idea of chaos trapped within the four walls of a standard American household. The beautiful moon, looming in the top left corner of the space acted as a huge reminder to me that these characters are lunatics. And the music (by Drew Perkins) delicately scored the action of the play – not to mention, his beats made me tap my foot a few times.
There is so much to talk about in this production, but what seemed most special to me was McLean Jesse’s performance. Jesse was vibrant in her authenticity. Her ability to direct her focus was so fascinating to watch. People have a saying that if you’re acting well, you make it look easy… Well, that character was meaty, and in no way was this play easy to digest, but I can honestly say that she made it look REAL. I was already impressed with her performance, when I looked in the program and discovered she is also the Costume Designer and Production Manager. Bravo Jesse! I guess you did make it look easy even though I’m already stressed out by imagining your preparations.
Overall, I recommend you see this play. It is detailed and captivating and it is also surprisingly hilarious. The actors delivered brilliant performances, and it’s inspiring to see such effort put into one production. A Lie of the Mind runs till May 29th at the Virginia Rep Center.
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