Lady Grey (in an ever lower light) by Will Eno is an engima

The cast of Intermission (l-r, David Sinaiko as Mr. Smith, Gwyneth Richards as Mrs. Smith, Galen Murphy-Hoffman as Jack, and Danielle O’Hare as Jill) reacts during the intermission of a play called “The Mayor”

LADY GREY (in ever lower light) and other plays by Will Eno. Directed by Rob Morse. Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor Street, San Francisco. Call 800-838-3006 or visit Through April 10, 2011.

Every year or so a writer(s) is anointed with the label of “one of the brightest and best new playwrights.” Will Eno was one of the recipients in 2004 when his Pulitzer Prize nominated play, Thom Pain (based on nothing), won major awards in Edinburgh and New York. Cutting Ball Theatre’s production last year was a huge success. He has earned a reputation as “a Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation.” To me, that statement is an enigma and may suggest Eno inherits the riddles of Beckett. To begin with, the title Lady Grey (in ever lower light) carries on the tradition (stigma?) of being an enigma.

LadyGrey (in ever lower light) contains two monologues and one multi-character play all lasting a total of 80 minutes including a 15 minute intermission. The mystery begins with the question of who is Lady Grey? Wikipedia suggests that it may be reference to Lady Grey (c. 1530–1554), claimant to the Kingdom of England and Ireland who was known for the briefness of her reign over both (9 days), an Elementary School in British Columbia or a fictional character in Marvel comics. I will settle for the second in the list since it is monolog of a not too fond remembrance of an embarrassing childhood show and tell.

Mr. Theatre Comes Home Different is the other monolog. Both of the monologs involve interaction with the audience with the fourth wall being often broken with unanswered or explanatory questions/statements. The third production, Intermission, is a play with four characters as an audience commenting during an intermission of an unspecified event that may be an esoteric play or it may be a memoriam. The construction and dialog contains pathos, humor and brilliant character development in its brief time upon the stage. It is by far the best of the three.

Intermission begins with a voice over of a with the actors sitting side by side, facing the audience. Lights come up and conversation ensues first with a childless older couple (David Sinako and Gwyneth Richards) eventually divulging the death of their beloved dog. Sinako and Richards are superb actors with quality range of emotions that may even wring a tear from your eye. Galen Murphy-Hoffman and Danielle O’Hare as the blasé younger couple seatmates are sounding boards for the older couple but give great depth to the few lines Eno has written for them . Eno’s displays his genius in this brief 30 minutes creating unforgettable characers.

Sinako as Mr. Theatre who comes home different is a joy to watch as he interacts with the audience as an actor given the assignment of reading, nay performing, Eno’s modern/hilarious/astute adaptation of Shakespeare’s the seven ages of man from As You Like It. Starting with anger for what he knows will come; he keeps reminding us that he is acting and resents the fact that he must perform the death scene. Shakespeare would be proud of his histrionics. Mr. Theatre Comes Home Different is a perfect closure for this brief Cutting Ball production.

Now what about the curtain raiser, LadyGrey (in ever lower light)? After you solve the enigma of the title, what does it all mean? Since Danielle O’Hare is at times incomprehensible with her much underplayed role and her voice not projecting beyond the second row, all is conjecture. One has to hear the language to make judgments. This being said, one great monolog of two with a superb short play are worth a trip to Exit on Taylor.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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