This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Black comedy about family dysfunction roars onto Broadway (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Cort Theatre
138 West 48th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Through July 31, $31.50 - $176.50

The Vineyard Theatre production of The Lyons has made a splendid transition to Broadway, where the severely dysfunctional Jewish family has settled comfortably into the Cort Theatre. Linda Lavin stars as matriarch Rita Lyons, a brash, direct woman who sits at the side of her husband Ben’s (Dick Latessa) hospital bed casually leafing through magazines as he faces impending death, his terminal cancer about to claim him. While she seems more concerned with redoing the living room, he spits out a hysterical barrage of extreme curses at her; it’s hard at first to tell whether the two of them really love or hate each other, but the truth eventually comes out in playwright Nicky Silver’s (Pterodactyls, The Altruists) wild and woolly Broadway debut. Rita and Ben are soon joined by their extremely troubled children: Curtis (Michael Esper), a gay short story writer who’d rather be with his lover than his family, which isn’t hard to understand, and Lisa (Kate Jennings Grant), an alcoholic mother experiencing serious marital woes. The more time the four of them spend together, the more secrets are revealed, each one more brutal and darkly funny than the last. The first act of The Lyons is a laugh-out-loud riot as Latessa keeps shouting out invectives and Lavin adds just the right spin, from cynical and ironic to guilt-building and nonchalant, to every line. Even the way she sits down and crosses her legs is loaded with emotion. The second act loses a little steam as Silver and director Mark Brokaw (Cry-Baby, The Constant Wife) shift their attentions more on Curtis and his innate problems, but the show picks up again when his mother returns to share the bizarre turn her life has taken. Nominated for a pair of Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Actress in a Play (Lavin, who also received a Tony nod), The Lyons reveals just how much fun family dysfunction can be.

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