Tragic despair

By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  November 12, 2008

Their reflections are often amusing and frequently hilarious, particularly in the absurdist inadequacies of the parents. But there's usually little relief to be had from the comedy. In fact, the most fraught moments of this show come in the juxtaposition of humor with the dark stuff underlying it. Howard as the bearish Baylor is a particular master of this effect, berating his obliging wife's helplessness, even as he cannot put on his own socks, and complaining about the inconveniences of having shot Frankie, who has come looking for Beth. Watch him comically dress down Mike for misusing the American flag (as a yoke for Jake), and go on to devote far more care to folding it than he has thus far shown to any human being.

What this play and production achieve most poignantly is the sense that all of these people are on their own. Language fails to connect even those who still have their speech centers intact, and they all populate landscapes of their own perceptions, haunted by their own lost things. This play gives the lie — a sick, sordid, sad one — to that gloried Western ideal of independence.

Megan Grumbling can be reached at

A LIE OF THE MINDby Sam Shepard | Directed by Dana Packard | Produced by The Originals | at the Saco River Grange Hall in Bar Mills | through November 15 | 207.929.5412

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Related: Review: Brown tackles Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind, The Originals stage Pinter's Betrayal, Hapgood goes inside the human heart, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Sam Shepard, Sam Shepard, Michael Howard,  More more >
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