BU’s ‘Lying Kind’ is the perfect English farce

Reviewed by Lory Martinez

The Binghamton University Theatre Department production of Anthony Neilson’s The Lying Kind focuses on the trials and tribulations of Constables Blunt (Anthony Gabrielle) and Gobbel (Eric Berger) as they struggle to relate the tragic news of a daughter’s death to an elderly couple on Christmas Eve. After a bit of a slow start, the play picks up and brings audiences precisely what one would expect in an English farce: hilarious misunderstandings that lead to a well-executed denouement.

The play, directed by Carol Hanscom, begins with the two coppers standing outside house #58 as they contemplate how exactly they are going to tell Mr. and Mrs. Carson the news of their daughter’s tragic death on the road as she headed home for Christmas. The two banter quite a bit, and though the dialogue has its good bits, one begins to grow impatient as the constables “muck about” for what seems like a few minutes too long.

Soon, however, they are interupted by an unruly neighbor named Gronya (Mary Dziekowicz) in charge of a neighborhood watch group against pedophiles. At first, one doesn’t really know what to do with this somewhat aggressive albeit passionate character, but her role later proves to be an integral part of this comedy of errors. Dziekowicz’s Gronya commands the stage whenever she enters a scene and becomes the driving force for the play’s movement.

Though Berger and Gabrielle’s performances as the constables are to be lauded (they are a great pair, and their cockney accents are brilliant), the most outstanding performance belongs to Lisa Stockman. Her portrayal of the senile mother of the “deceased” Carol Carson is one of the highlights of the show, as she enters each scene in and out of a dazed state. At one point she comes in and behaves as though she is on a boat, pushing an imaginary trolley cart with coffee and tea that Constable Gobbel happily drinks.

Also to be noted are performances by Ian Penzel as the elderly father, Balthasar Carson, and Rob Tendy as Reverend Shandy. Penzel is a great match for Stockman. He is a convincing old man, hobbling about the stage trying to calm down his confused wife. Tendy’s cleric serves as somewhat of a prop for the slapstick physical comedy that dominates the latter half of the show.

In all, The Lying Kind is a side-splitting comedy worth the watch.

The final two performances are at 8 p.m. today (Oct. 25) and 2 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 26) in the Anderson Center Chamber Hall on campus. Tickets on sale at the Anderson Center box office. Call 777-2787 or purchase online.

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