Lots of people laugh at the top of the first act of The Lyons. Half of those people are laughing at the ridiculousness of what Linda Lavin says, while the other half are laughing because they had, or have, a Jewish grandmother exactly like Rita Lyons. I knew nothing really had changed about the script, but I was excited to see The Lyons again after it was announced that it was transferring from it’s small stage at the Vineyard in Union Square.
The Lyons is about absolutely nothing other than a dysfunctional upper-middle class family in which all of the members are dysfunctional in their own unique ways. Is it entertaining? Oh, yes, you will keel over laughing. Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa, as Rita and Ben Lyons, bicker and you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity. Have you ever wanted to hear Dick Latessa yell “motherfucker”? Well, then this is your show. Rita is redesigning their living room while Ben is in a hospital bed dying from cancer when their two equally as dysfunctional grown children show up.
Brother and sister Lisa Lyons and Curtis Lyons, played respectively by Kate Jennings Grant and Michael Esper, each have their own problems, including alcoholism and compulsive and delusional lying.
Their lives have all crumbled by the end of the second act, except for Rita’s, and we’re left with Rita proclaiming, “You can wish me bon voyage, or you can go fuck yourselves.” Motherly love at it’s best, indeed.
Performances are fantastic throughout. Esper is pitiful, humorous, and creepy (though not all at the same time), Grant is a frantic mess, and the two supporting characters the nurse and Brian, the real estate agent, played by Brenda Pressley and Gregory Wooddell are comical and sad respectively.
It goes without saying that Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa are masters of their crafts and therefore own the stage with ease. The Lyons is hysterical and appalling at the same time, on any sized stage.