Celebrated playwright Nicky Silver, an American-born London transplant, has been variously described as witty, clever, and brimming over with black humor – a man bursting with shocking bon mots and not afraid to use them. Written after the success of his 2012 off-Broadway hit play, “The Lyons,” TOO MUCH SUN premiered off-Broadway in 2014. New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley lauded Silver, noting that “he gives the cast the generous gift of speaking beautifully, in epigrams and winged barbs and poetic soliloquies that cascade like a Schubert impromptu.” Originally written at the request of actress Linda Lavin, who performed in “The Lyons,” Silver created the role of scandalous actress Audrey Langham in TOO MUCH SUN, currently making its 2019 Los Angeles debut at the Odyssey Theatre.
During a major meltdown, acclaimed actress Audrey Langham (Diane Cary) runs off the Chicago theater set of “Medea” days before the show is scheduled to open. And ends up at the Cape Cod summer home of her married daughter Kitty (Autumn Reeser). Reluctance is the order of the day, but neither Kitty nor her husband Dennis (Bryan Langlitz) can confront the hurricane that is Audrey. Soon the flirtatious Audrey, with five – or maybe six – past strolls down the aisle, has a new beau in the person of straight-laced widower neighbor Winston (Clint Jordan). Who just happens to live with his gay son Lucas (Bailey Edwards), the neighborhood drug dealer. As if the scorecard isn’t already full, let’s add Gil (Joe Gillette), Audrey’s agent’s assistant, a wannabe Rabbi who won’t leave until Audrey returns to Chicago with him. Pay careful attention to his soulful rendition of a Hebrew classic at a funeral.
Each of these characters has a painfully hilarious back story which will curl your hair. When they get together, fur will surely fly and outrageous, hysterical, and poignant situations will develop. Soon, weddings bells are being planned, Kitty’s husband and Lucas are doing the dirty, and every mess that can happen does. Director Bart DeLorenzo has his hands full steering this talented cast to their final destinations. Each principal just wants another chance to prove that they have changed – but have they?
Alex M. Calle’s scenic design fills the bill, with Michael Mullen’s costumes adding just the right note to the proceedings. Rose Malone’s lighting and Christopher Moscatiello’s sound keep the play moving along, and the entire production team does a memorable job. TOO MUCH SUN is well written, beautifully acted, and has just the right amount of pain and pleasure, laughs and tears. There is also the dark wit which has characterized Nicky Silver’s plays over the years. AUDIENCE ALERT: This is definitely at least PG-13, so leave the kids at home.
TOO MUCH SUN runs through April 21, 2019, with performances at 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets range from $32 to $37. For information and reservations, call 310-477-2055 or go online.