Review: A Little Black Lie (Crossfieldhouse Productions)

Photo of the cast of Little Black LieTroy Crossfield’s new play; a live “soap opera” is playing at Toronto’s Berkeley Street Theatre

After I got home from seeing A Little Black Lie at the Berkeley Street Theatre I took a minute to look at the program. In the playwright notes Troy Crossfield says “Looks like we’re creating a soap opera and you get front tickets.” He’s referring to his play, A Little White Lie which was on stage a year ago. It’s referenced a fair bit in A Little Black Lie but you don’t need to have seen it, the references are self-explanatory.

He’s right for a couple of reasons. While I was watching the play last night I thought more than once that it should be a TV show or a movie or three plays. 

The main story is about Michael (Troy Crossfield) and Stacey (Sheronna Osbourne) who are getting married. They have a few things they need to resolve in the weeks leading up to the wedding. So do some of the other people in their lives. It’s not all serious though. Parts of the play are very funny.

There’s a big cast of 17 people, which is far too many for me to mention everyone.

I really liked the interaction between Stacey and her ‘girls’ – Nicole (Quinn-Marie Wilson) and Veronica (Karen Simpson). When they were on stage together they were so wonderfully over the top. They really seemed like friends who were closer than sisters the way they teased each other, argued, laughed, and finished each others’ sentences.

The other “performers” that I really liked were the women in the audience who shouted out in agreement or disapproval–there was some pretty strong universal disapproval to a couple of things that male characters said–talked back and offered advice. I say women in the audience because those are who I noticed. It’s perfectly possible that men were talking back too. I wish white audiences did that but we don’t.

Director Douglas Prout kept things visually interesting by dividing the stage with lighting for some of the scenes and having the first part in one half and then the second part in the other half.

Like a soap opera the play has a lot of story lines and they play out in short scenes that move back and forth between the various plots.

It means there are a lot of scenes and on Wednesday scene changes were definitely an issue. The play was supposed to run for two hours with a 20 minute intermission. It ran for three hours with a shortened intermission.

The scene changes took a really long time. I’m not sure why. The set was very plain with a white background that was in two parts so that sometimes there could be an opening in the middle of the back of the stage. There weren’t very many furniture props onstage at once so there wasn’t much to move.

My friend Marg thought it was costume changes that slowed things down. There were a lot of them, but they shouldn’t have taken that long. As we were leaving she said “Don’t let your Stage Manager be in your play” because we had both noticed that he was. I noticed later that the Assistant Stage Manager was also part of the cast.

I don’t think it would have mattered because the ASM was only in Act l and the SM was only in ACTll so one of them was there for each act.

Whatever the reason, it was a shame because it really spoiled the pace which should have been boom, boom, boom! Hopefully that will be cleared up by Thursday’s performance.

Back to the ‘lots of story lines’. Playwright Crossfield has so many things he wants to say I really think he could have written two plays with the material that’s in this play. It would make an excellent TV series. Crossfield’s writing and Prout’s direction with short scenes and split screens make it perfect for TV.

Most of the audience seemed to adore the A Little Black Lie. I have to admit that the long scene changes affected Marg’s and my enjoyment of the evening. There are only four performances left and Saturday is sold out so really, only three left. I’d get tickets right away.

Details:

  • A Little Black Lie is playing until September 23 at Berkeley St Theatre (26 Berkeley St)
  • Performances are Thursday, Sep 20th at 8:00pm, Friday, September 21st at 7:00pm, Sunday, September 23rd at 2:00pm
  • Tickets are $34.99 ($29.99 for the matinee) and are available online, by phone at 416-368-3110, and at the box office

Photo of the cast of A Little Black Lie by Jude Anthony

Audience warning – it’s not really a warning but the publicity photos are gorgeous, the set doesn’t look like this.

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