Carol Dines, Lenae McKee Price, & Phil Lynch in Other Desert Cities.
Photo: The Bard’s Town.
Other Desert Cities
By Jon Robin Baitz
Directed by Melissa K. Shepherd
Review by Rachel White
Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Rachel White. All rights reserved.
Other Desert Cities asks a lot of hard questions of its characters and of its audience. It is a play that deals with world politics and then examines a microcosm of those politics played out in the domestic drama of a prominent American family.
Brooke (Lenae McKee Price), a successful novelist, returns to her family’s home in Palm Springs; she soon reveals that she is close to publishing a memoir, which contains a devastating family secret, a secret that will tear apart the family’s carefully cultivated Republican Palm Springs image.
Phil Lynch plays Brooke’s father, Lyman, a prominent political figure, who was once a successful actor. Brooke describes him as a kind man, though his dark side becomes more evident as the play moves forward. Lynch’s strength in this role is that he has a genuine warmth on stage that he combines with shrewd hardheadedness, making it easy to imagine that he could turn angry very easily.
Carol Dines plays Lyman’s wife Polly with fierceness and spunk, which belies the fact that her love for Brooke is a conditional thing. Polly is like modern Lady Macbeth, running the show behind a prominent man, threatening, covering tracks and enjoying the benefits of the life she has created. She is sharp tongued and a little mean when relaxed, and an animal when threatened.
In the middle of this is Brooke, played by Lenae McKee Price, a liberal, emotional, depressive, who can manage with medication. In many ways she is the hero of the piece, the one willing to tell the truth, to make the ultimate sacrifice, but her flaw, a feature that Price seems to grasp, is that she is more fragile than the forces around her; she breaks far more easily. She is tied to her parents in a way that they aren’t to her, and for her this is a horrifying realization. Price navigates Brooke’s ambivalence and her inner conflict well, though at times she is too soft. I imagine there is a deeper resoluteness in Brooke, a certain level of rage required to destroy her family in such a public way that Price approaches, but could take to the edge if she wanted to.
Supporting actors included the dryly funny Jackie Carraco as the ex-alcoholic Aunt Silda and Trevor Fiechter as Trip, the younger brother caught in the middle.
Other Desert Cities
July 23-26, July 30 – August 2 @7:30 PM
Advance Tickets: $16 General / $14 Seniors / $12 Students. Tickets at the door are $18/16/14, respectively.
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
[box_light]Rachel White received her MFA in playwriting from the New School for Drama, and her BA in English and Dramatic from Centre College. Her plays have been produced in New York at The New School, the Midtown International Theatre Festival and the American Globe Theater, in Los Angeles at Moving Arts Productions and the Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA. In Louisville, she has had productions at the Slant Culture Theatre Festival, the Tim Faulkner Gallery, and Finnigan Productions. She is a recipient of the Litwin Foundation. Fellowship in Playwriting, and was recently a semi-finalist in the Labute New Theater Festival. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and the Playwrights Gallery in New York.[/box_light]