The Lyons at Flying H
By Matt McGee 06/05/2014
It’s not often, in fact it’s downright rare, that Ventura County theatergoers can say, “I walked into a theater and Ron Rezac was already dying on stage.” But that’s just what happens in Flying H’s new production of The Lyons. Rezac, a longtime local favorite, lies dying in a hospital bed before the lights even go on. And once we meet his family, we see why death might not be such a bad option.
The Lyons family shows affection in the most caustic and awkward ways. The verbal assault from bombastic matriarch Rita (Sindy McKay) literally begins the moment the lights go up, leveling her husband and everyone else in her path the way rushing water erodes even the mightiest stone over time.
Though her husband is dying of cancer Rita denies he’s got a chance to get to heaven, or even hell for that matter. “After all,” she chides without missing a crochet stitch, “who are you to get into hell? You’re just a little man with little sins.” She goes on in detail about how she’s going to redecorate, complaining that their couch was once new but is now “one shade of washed-out hopes.”
This same sense of disillusionment is passed on from father to son. “My life is one long parade of disappointments,” the elder tells son Curtis, “and you are the grand marshal.”
Despite Ben and Rita’s absurd attempts at intervention, their daughter didn’t turn out the way they hoped either. Lisa (played with a pitch blend of sympathy and bitterness by Javiera Torres) bounces between hilarious and pitiful. Lisa’s an alkie who can’t seem to land a man, a problem shared with her brother, Curtis (the intense Eric Mello), who can’t get a boyfriend either, but instead makes them up to placate his family. And who can blame him for creating a fantasy world? With family like this who needs enemies?
Curtis’ quest for love and acceptance takes a turn for the psychotic when he bases one of his imaginary lovers on his realtor neighbor Brian (Stan McConnell) and crosses the line by scheduling an appointment to view one of Brian’s listings. Rather than getting him closer to the object of his desire, the appointment goes horribly wrong and soon the youngest Lyon is replacing the elder in the hospital.
It’s here that Curtis receives a life lesson from his nurse (Annie Zirbel), who gives in to Curtis’ request to be honest. “There are two kinds of people: happy people and people who are lonely, mean and sad.” Not much of a stretch to realize she thinks he’s one of the latter.
A story with such family dysfunction would need to be funny, and the cast breathes life into the script with equal parts wit and sarcasm. Even when Mello is ranting about the state of the world, and we’re starting to really despise him, his mother does something even more absurd, and we have to laugh at our own good fortune for not having been born into the Lyons family.
The Lyons through June 22 at Flying H Productions, 6368 Bristol Road, Ventura. 901-0005 or www.flyinghgroup.com.