The Golden Age of theater is alive in the old fashioned romp Reading Between the Lies. Written by Kelly Barrett, Reading Between the Lies is an theater-lovers' comedy set in the 40s where a group of theater vets meet to read a new play at the home of a producer. When one of them ends up dead on the floor, it's a who-dun-it crime caper. Where the comedy shines is through Barrett's characters. Sure, they borrow well-crafted features from archetypal characters, they all have strong objectives and well-formed relationships. Each character is there for a purpose and do not get relegated to furniture. The plot, until the secret upon secret extravaganza of Act II is revealed, is easily to follow and pretty fun. Allowing the audience to get in on the action of solving a crime is always a smart idea. But you may need a cheat sheet to follow the facts as there is a lot to remember. While it may not be brand new conceit, it certainly is exciting to watch.
Director Schnele Wilson had pretty strong material to work with. Where she struggled was with tempo. Farce requires amped up speed with a tinge of physical comedy. Wilson and her crew needed to double time their delivery. The mystery and intrigue were there, it just needed to come faster. The staging was simple and Wilson was able to allow the large ensemble not feel stuck.
Reading Between the Lies is certainly meant for a certain demographic. The nostalgia-seeking crowd. It fits the mold of the time but why this play now? Though it was pretty solid, this is a play destined for subscriber-based regional houses, and that's about it.