Lyric is Waiting @ Irish Repertory Theatre, New York

cast list
Lori Prince, Kelly McAndrew, Bret Whittle, Joe Masi

directed by
Adam Fitzgerald
Lyric is Waiting is the best play I have ever seen with Bigfoot in it.

That sounds like a back-handed compliment but any show that has Bigfoot listed among its cast of characters is tethered to a certain set of assumptions, not the least of which is that it shouldnt be taken too seriously.

That would be a mistake though, for the play is actually a rather haunting deconstruction of a relationship, a moving and thoughtful piece of writing.

Michael Puzzo’s play charts the relationship of Ned and Lyric.
Ned, superbly portrayed by Bret Whittle, is an average guy who is charmed by a very un-average girl. Lori Price’s Lyric is a tightrope of a role, requiring her to be manic, depressive, sexy, sensual and loving at different times. Yet her performance never felt forced, never felt like ‘acting’; she seemed to inhabit the persona, shifting moods as quickly and frighteningly as if she were a true manic depressive with anger issues.

So Ned is drawn to Lyric; first in lust, then in love, and finally in a desire to save her from herself. It is a familiar tale: a man trying to save a woman, who cannot be saved. But its familiarity, even its over-familiarity, does not stop Puzzo’s play from being funny, heartbreaking and frustrating all at the same time, and – crucially – always honest.

The character of Ned often addresses the audience directly, and Whittle makes these digressions come off as genuine, organic musings, not as exercises in exposition.

The supporting characters, Kelly McAndrew, as the Librarian, and Joe Masi, as Bigfoot, act as personifications of the problems, hopes, past and future of Ned and Lryic and their relationship.

McAndrew and Masi take these roles, which could so easily have been wooden and obvious, and turn them into something more. They really do help to illuminate and illustrate the main characters’ motivations and emotions, while never distracting the audience from the play’s aching heart.

Puzzo’s play perfectly captures the moment of realization that comes in a realationship when you realise that you cant change your partner. Ned is locked into a relationship he cannot escape. He knows and understands exactly how he got there, but this knowledge doesnt help him when it comes to knowing what to do next.

Adam Fitzgerald’s production makes good use of the intimate space. He pitches things at just the right emotional level for a theatre of this size.

Which brings us back to Bigfoot. Bigfoot, as a character within the play, seems out of place. He is meant to be the personification of strength and sacurity. But Bigfoot is, you know, a Yeti; its hard to take a Yeti seriously. The inclusion of Bigfoot might have worked in a more broadly comic piece, but here it’s rather jarring (despite the best efforts of Masi).

Yet, Yetis aside, the calibre of the acting and the writing are considerable and it’s the emotional honesty of the play that shines brightest despite the occasional misjudgement of tone.

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