- One Big Lie
- by Liz Duffy Adams
Crowded Fire's 'One Big Lie' is one big blast
review by Chad Jones in the Oakland Tribune March 22, 2005
- INSPIRED by a Bob Dylan lyric "All the truth in the world
adds up to one big lie" and a world in chaos, playwright Liz
Duffy Adams decided to write a merry musical about death, destruction and
- Adams' "One Big Lie," given its world premiere Saturday by
Crowded Fire Theater Company and the Playwrights Foundation, reaffirms
that Adams is a voice meant for our time.
- Her previous Crowded Fire show, "Train Play," revealed a
gift for dialogue and enigmatic storytelling. Last year's "Dog Act"
with the Shotgun Players the 2005 winner of the Glickman Award for
best new play to premiere in the Bay Area whipped words into a post-apocalyptic
- And now "One Big Lie," another exercise in lively, kinetic
language, teases us with the answers to all the world's problems.
- In tone and ambition, "One Big Lie" most closely resembles
Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth" in that each of the
play's three acts shows us how things change yet remain the same.
- In "The Pastoral World" of Act 1 the gods rape, pillage,
torture and test the faith of mortals simply because they can, and therein
lies the "big lie" of the title: The gods only have power because
we so willingly surrender it to them. "People gave us our power capital
and we're darn sure gonna spend it," one
- If the secret ever got out that humans could rule their own lives without
the gods, well, there'd be hell to pay for the denizens of heaven.
- Act 2, "The Mechanical World," finds things in further disarray.
Lu-Lu, the god of lies (Linda Jones), has been banished from god land because
she pities the people and wants to reveal the lie of their faith. In a
cruel trick, her fellow gods Cassoulay (the truly divine Cassie Beck),
Mauvelous (Mollena Williams) and Pow (Paul Lancour) have garbled her speech.
- While Lu-Lu speaks fervently of rebellion, all that mortals hear is
a rant about trout. Luckily, The Oracle (Alan Quismorio) can understand
so he can serve as a translator and help spread the truth.
- But the revolution is not to be. By Act 3, "The Po-Mo Mo-Fo Freakshow
World," we're in modern times and chaos has pushed the world and the
heavens to the breaking point.
- The gods begin taking revenge on human rabble-rousers while Marie Antoinette
(Juliet Tanner) stands off to one side eating cake.
- Director Rebecca Novick's production is so ambitious that it's actually
too big for the EXIT Theatre. Set designer Melpomene Katakalos has built
a proscenium around the stage in the small theater, thus eliminating the
first few rows.
- And with composer/pianist/conductor David Rhodes and his excellent
quartet taking up space on one side of the auditorium, the show overwhelms
- That this production doesn't quite meet all this "Lie's"
challenges doesn't diminish the spirit and vitality of the effort. As a
full-blown musical Rhodes' score is accessible without bending to
pop conventions "One Big Lie" borrows from Brecht, Weill
and vaudeville, which means it's challenging.
- And none of the performers here, except maybe Beck, seems truly comfortable
singing. The actors are much more successful with the comedy's blend of
humanism and righteous nastiness.
- Along with her terrific dialogue and fantastic sense of humor, Adams
maintains a somewhat oblique approach to drama, but that's calculated.
As her fallen god says, "You reflect the truth but don't hit it head
on. Then maybe people can hear it better."
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