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Review: 'Lie With Me' at Art/Works

March 19, 2009 |  2:30 pm

Liewithmelabanohamilton_103Keith Bridges’ psychosexual drama “Lie With Me” has an instructive title -- the characters are either crawling into bed with one another or they’re telling hurtful stories of dubious veracity. 

This intensely acted but deeply flawed new play follows the lives of two sisters: Carla (Taylor Coffman), a sex worker who can’t seem to work up much passion for her live-in boyfriend, and Susan (Amber Hamilton), a barely legal nymphet who struts around the house in her underwear.

The sisters perform a synchronized cannonball into the deep end of familial dysfunctionality. Their father, Stan (Christian Lebano), harbors a festering sexual secret of his own, while their mother (Emily Morrison) hurls insults from her hospital deathbed. The confluence of repressed anger and hatred climaxes in a gruesome family smash-up.

Bridges’ play (which serves as the first outing for the new Mutineer Theatre Company) struggles to find a consistent -- or at least consistently inconsistent -- tone. Scenes of campy comedy randomly cohabit with moments of heart-tugging sincerity. When the plot’s big secret is revealed, it feels contrived and unconvincing, just another twist in the story’s flow chart of sexual pathology.

Still, the play (directed by Joe Banno) contains a few powerful scenes, the most memorable of which is a bathroom seduction between the Lolita-esque Susan and her sister’s boyfriend (Jon Cohn). Cheerfully trashy and unafraid of being gross, the scene -- which involves urination and a jar of vomitus -- has a concision and formal elegance that the rest of the drama sorely lacks.

--David Ng

“Lie With Me,” Art/Works, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m., Sundays. Ends April 5. (323) 960-7787. Running time: 2 hours.

Caption: Christian Lebano and Amber Hamilton in "Lie With Me." Credit: Keith Bridges