While I was waiting in line to enter the Cort Theater, I was a little nervous about seeing The Lyons. I had just gone through a similar situation as the characters in the play and was afraid that the subject matter would be too much, too soon for me. As it turned out, the show was just what I needed. What I couldn’t see when I was going through my real-life version of The Lyons, was how perfect a formula for comedy it was. An outspoken family is crammed into a small hospital room around their dying father/husband. Nicky Silver has brilliantly taken these extremely high stakes and recognized how ripe they are for comedy. It’s brilliant because in those types of situations, with those stakes, the audience NEEDS to laugh. And while there’s a little bit of guilt laughing at these characters misfortunes, for the most part, the laughs are witty and well timed.
Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa steal the show as an old married couple that have come to terms with the faults in their relationship; and have resigned to pretty much telling each other to “go fuck yourself.” I was most interested in seeing the interactions between a man so close to death that there are no more formalities or niceties and a family living in the middle of all their issues. An alcoholic daughter, a gay son and a regretful wife surround this man with all of their baggage while all he cares about is the living room furniture and remembering the smell of his father. The second act delves a bit further into the family’s baggage and is not quite as entertaining as the first act, but still full of some impressive acting moments. Beautiful, tragic, funny and sobering, The Lyons is a piece worth seeing.