Review: A Little Black Lie (Crossfield House Productions)

Image of the cast of A Little Black Lie

Marriage, Mayhem and Music Take Centre Stage With A Little Black Lie

A Little Black Lie opened Wednesday for an encore Toronto presentation at Tarragon Theatre. My friend Marg and I saw it last year, and we were both curious to see what had changed.

The story’s the same: Michael (Troy Crossfield) and Stacey (Sheronna Osbourne) are about to get married, and Michael has past and current issues he needs to deal with if the wedding is going to go ahead. He wants the wedding to go ahead.

Marg has a better memory than I do and she said that there was material cut from the original play and new material added. There were certainly scenes I didn’t remember, and in general, the piece felt a bit funnier and more light-hearted than I remembered. Not that this is a comedy. It isn’t, but there is a fair amount of humour.

Crossfield also wrote the play, and my sense is that he’s more comfortable with drama than he is with comedy.

The cast is enormous, 20 people. Far too many for me to comment on everyone, but there were a few performances that I particularly loved.

Christian Miller as Shawn Myers – Michael’s brother – is wonderful. His performance is natural and nuanced; his facial expressions and body language are perfect. As Marg said, “Watch for him, he’s going places.”

I had a love/hate thing for Tarick Glancy as Chris. I loved him when he was one of the groomsmen explaining to Michael the things he needed to know to be with a woman. His delivery was perfect. On the other hand, I really disliked his performance when he was breaking into a house with his girlfriend. His screechy fear felt like an over-the-top caricature. This would be a place for director Doug Prout to step in, or perhaps it was his idea. I would have enjoyed it so much more if it had been toned down.

The other performer who stood out for me was Zakiya McIntosh as Nneeka. My reaction to her character was also mixed, this time more meh/love. I loved the nonchalance of her performance in the break-in scene, she acted as if she belonged there. It was great. I also really liked her in the arrest scene. So did the audience. I was kind of neither here nor there about the bridal shop scene, just not a character that appealed to me.

The music was great. DJ Mars Forever (Marvin Davis) made terrific choices.

Something that hasn’t changed from the show we saw last year is the run time. It’s still an issue. In addition to the long script, the scene changes still seem to take forever.

The audience barely waited for the lights to go off before they hit their phones. It was fascinating because they were obviously involved with the play. There was a lot of shouting out of agreement or disapproval, which also happened last time. The difference this time was that men were also reacting verbally to what was being said on stage. That could be because we were sitting among more men, or because the men in the audience were more reactive. It doesn’t matter why; it was lovely.

Crossfield definitely has something here. Marg and I enjoyed the play even though we both found the length a problem. Some of it was due to the show starting late and probably some of it was because it was their first night in an unfamiliar theatre. But I don’t see it coming down from two and a half plus hours to the advertised 90 minutes in this run. The play needs a dramaturge.

Don’t let that stop you from going. Just be prepared to stay longer than 90 minutes.

Details:

  • A Little Black Lie is playing until July 28 at Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Ave)
  • Performances are at 8:00PM on Thursday thru Saturday and at 2:30PM on Sunday
  • Tickets prices are $40 for general seating and $50 for VIP seating*
  • Tickets are available online, by phone at 416.531.1827, and in person at the box office

*VIP Seating includes: Priority Line, Premium VIP Reserved Seats, Autographed Playbill, 10% Off Merchandise, ALBL Souvenir Cup

Photo of the cast by Jude Anthony