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Review of "Clever Little Lies"

By Gary Wien


(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- Marriage is difficult. Ask anyone that's ever been married and they're bound to admit that there are moments in time that threaten to unravel all of the good memories accumulated over the years. "Clever Little Lies" is about such moments. An outrageously funny comedy, "Clever Little Lies" offers more than just laughs. This well-written play (making its world premiere here) evokes the relationship tension of Edward Albee, the non-stop barrage of one-liners a la Neil Simon, and the morality of Arthur Miller.

"Clever Little Lies" begins in the locker room of Bill's gym where he has just lost a tennis match to his father. This, in itself, worries Bill, Sr. His son never loses. It's clear he's got something distracting him. He's always prided himself on being as much of a friend as a father; a situation that backfires on him here when his son reveals he's not only been having an affair, but is in love with a much younger woman -- a relationship that began while his wife was deep into pregnancy with their first child.

"Maybe she's just a friend," his father suggests.

"Trust me dad, she's not a friend," Bill, Jr. replies. "We have sex all of the time."

The father is sworn to secrecy about the affair, but is afraid Bill's mother will pry it out of him. "She has ways of extracting things out of me," he said. The mother, played by Marlo Thomas, runs a book store and laments how nobody goes to bookstores to buy books anymore.

"There was a girl who came into the store and asked 'Where can I find an F. Scott Fitzgerald?' I said, which book? She said, 'No, a t-shirt.' The worst thing is I had one to sell her!"

Marlo's impeccable comic timing is on display throughout the play. Despite having plans for the night, Alice senses there is something wrong with her husband. She manages to pry enough information to realize it has to do with her son and his wife, Jane. She insists they come over for dinner tonight, talking Jane out of her book club meeting and screwing up her son's plans with his mistress.

When they arrive, the son confronts his father about what did he tell her? The father replies, "I told her you had a man problem."

"What's a man problem," the son replies.

"She thinks you're impotent."


The night is one of many surprises as it's revealed that Jane doesn't want to return to work, something that is a shock to Bill, Jr. who had already made plans to spend more time with his mistress with his wife out of the house. Meanwhile, the mistress (who expected Jane to be at her book club) keeps calling Bill's cell phone. Jane, who admits to sensing problems in the marriage surprises her husband with a huge gift that only makes things worse. A web of lies built up over lifetimes intersect during the night. Truths are told that were never meant to be revealed, making everyone struggle to accept the reality of the situation. At one point, Bill, Jr. tries to comfort his wife by saying, "I want the marriage my parents have." His wife replies, "I was hoping for something better."

"Clever Little Lies" was written by Joe DiPietro and directed by David Saint. The play stars Marlo Thomas as Alice (the mother), Jim Stanek (Bill Jr.), Greg Mulavey (Bill, Sr.), and Kate Weatherhead (Jane). George Street has once again put together a simply stellar cast, but for me Jim Stanek steals the show with some of the best non-verbal acting I've ever seen. His character does more with facial expressions, slumping, and the way he walks than any writer could ever describe.

There are intense, powerful things happening between the lines here. While the play is laugh at loud funny, it holds a bold message as well. If you have a good marriage, this play will probably make you appreciate what you have. If your marriage is struggling, this may sound a wake up call to you. It's what theatre should always strive for -- to hold meaning above and beyond the stage. Highly recommended, but with enough adult language that you should keep the kids at home.

"Clever Little Lies" runs now through December 22 at George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For more information on the theatre visit http://www.gsponline.org




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Circle Players Presents "After The Revolution"
(PISCATAWAY, NJ) -- Circle Players presents After the Revolution by Amy Herzog, weekends from February 1st to February 17th. The production is directed by Alicia Harabin. In the play, Emma Joseph is a bright, hard-working, law school graduate continuing her family’s business of fighting for progressive ideals. 
Black Box PAC Presents "Significant Other"
(TEANECK, NJ) -- Black Box PAC's first main stage show of 2019 is Significant Other by Joshua Harmon. BBPAC is no stranger to Harmon’s work, as one of the first hits at the Black Box Performing Arts Center was Harmon’s hit Bad Jews. Significant Other follows the perpetually single Jordan Berman and his trio of girl friends as they navigate dating, relationships, and supporting those you love. Performances run from January 24 to February 10th.
The Theater Project Presents 5th Annual One-Act Play Competition
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- Which play will be voted Audience Favorite – the romance, the thriller, or the comedy?  And which author will take the $500 Judge’s Award?
Dreamcatcher Presents World Premiere of "Psychodrama"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre will present the World Premiere of Psychodrama by Montclair playwright Phoebe Farber. This seriocomedy unfolds in a divorce support group where a new leader introduces unorthodox methods that just might work. Psychodrama runs February 14-March 3.
Centenary Stage Presents Henrik Ibsen's "Enemy Of The People"
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso headline Centenary Stage Company’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, February 15 through March 3 in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center, Hackettstown, New Jersey. Adapted by John Alan Wyatt and directed by Anne Occhiogrosso, the production will feature Randall Duk Kim as Doctor Thomas Stockmann supported by an acting company of professional and local talent from the tri-state area and Centenary University. The full-scale production marks the culmination of the 2018 Gates Ferry Lecture Series: “What is Truth?”


Emmy-Winning South Oranger, Andre Braugher
​​​​​​​“I’m Andre Braugher and I’m here at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, SOPAC, rehearsing a new play by Julia Doolittle called ‘Tell Them I’m Still Young.’”
Laiona Michelle Talks About "Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical"
This might be the right time for Nina Simone—15 years after her death. That’s what Laiona Michelle thinks, and, in a way, Michelle will be testing that idea by bringing the singer-activist to life in a world-premiere musical show at George Street Playhouse. Michelle wrote the show—“Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical”—and she will appear in the title role at the New Brunswick theater from January 29 through February 24.
It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 






Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.


2019-01-23
Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

2019-01-23
Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

2019-01-24
New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch






















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