Nashville playwright Jim Reyland stages his strongest script yet
A Terrific Lieby Martin Brady
Presented by Writer's Stage
Through Nov. 21 at The Next Level, 1008 Charlotte Ave.
A Terrible Lie, Nashville playwright Jim Reyland's latest work, might be his best so far. The credible scenario revolves around a personally conflicted writer desperate to publish his next book, his faithful wife and some of the residents of the retirement home where she works as a nurse. Any more plot details would venture into spoiler territory.
As always, Reyland displays a gift for dialogue, and he moves his audience seamlessly between the couple's apartment and the senior residence, weaving an interesting tale of human weakness and need exemplified by the differing priorities of youth and old age.
The cast, under the direction of Barry Scott, is uniformly excellent. Ross Bolen and Alice Raver deliver sharp, sensitive work in the leading roles, but it's particularly gratifying to experience the performances of longtime Nashville veteran Cecil Jones and Jeremy Childs, the latter on a local stage for the first time in recent memory. Childs is superb in a finely etched portrait of a man with an edge but also a conscience. Jones' wife, Jane Jones, also makes a return to live theater with a convincing and poignant portrayal of Raver's wheelchair-bound, Alzheimer's-afflicted mother. Equally good, only sassier, are Dorothy Robinson and Martha Manning as a pair of senior sisters of indefatigable spirit.
More so than his previous effort Article Four, Reyland's drama seems to have gained a lot through its monthlong workshop process leading up to the opening — not to mention that this script features more realistic characters and plot development, resulting in a more satisfying emotional experience.