Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lydia vs. Mauritius

It's not a competition, except that everything is.

I saw Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck at the Pasadena Playhouse recently, and Lydia by Octavio Solis at the Taper.

Mauritius is a tidy, well-made play that twists and turns, about two half-sisters fighting over the one valuable thing they've been left -- their grandfather's stamp collection.

Lydia is a big, messy family play, violent and poetic, about a Latino family dealing with the fall-out, years later, from their daughter's car accident that left her severely brain-damaged. The arrival of a new housekeeper in their midst throws everything in the past and present into question.

I liked Lydia much better than Mauritius. For all its rough edges and strange parts, it seemed like the playwright was trying for so much more, and giving the audience so much more. I appreciated that. I want the plays I see to try for the moon. I want the plays I see to trust me with their rough, rusty edges and not tidy everything into bland perfection.

On another note, I thought that Lydia was beautifully produced on the Taper stage. Direction, acting, design -- all great work. Go see it.

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