Review: Clever Little Lies

“Hey, I have a very honest face.”

“Hey, I have a very honest face.”

Photo courtesy of B Street Theatre

Clever Little Lies; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday; $26-$38. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300; Through July 31.
Rated 4.0

B Street Theatre has a long history with Tony Award-winning playwright Joe DiPietro. The company produced one of DiPietro’s first plays in the early ’90s, and a second a few years later—all before the playwright won top awards for his 2010 Broadway musical Memphis.

Now the theater welcomes DiPietro back with Clever Little Lies, the first staging after the play’s 2015 off-Broadway debut. The show’s two leads also pack Broadway credentials: Rich Hebert and Julia Brothers, who was the understudy for Marlo Thomas when she starred in Clever Little Lies.

It’s these two leads who really elevate this play about infidelity and the resulting secrets, lies, deceits and decisions that damage a relationship. Clever Little Lies is a parlor play—most action happens in a suburban living room. It centers around Billy (Jason Kuykendall) secretly confessing to his father Bill Sr. (Herbet) that he’s having an affair with a personal trainer. Though Bill Sr. swears not to tell Billy’s mother Alice (Brothers), she instantly figure something’s amiss, pries the secret out of her husband and quickly invites Billy and wife Jane (Tara Sissom) over for cheesecake and situation assessment.

The play is like a smart Neil Simon production with an edge—it’s about likable middle-class characters with relationship problems who banter, argue, talk and reveal. Not a lot of action, but lots of conversations, and with an unforeseen twist that alters the focus.

It’s the performances by Hebert and Brothers, however, that make this play so memorable—so believable with so many layers, and so much subtlety, especially Hebert who has less dialogue but speaks volumes with facial expressions and small gestures.