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Lie With Me
Deanna (Emily Morrison), Stan's wife, is dying of a tumor and he calls his estranged daughters to her deathbed. Carla (Taylor Coffman) and the younger Susan (Amber Hamilton) are both astonishingly beautiful and both work in the sex industry: Susan as a stripper and Carla as a sex therapist for the handicapped. Carla's boyfriend Ian (Jon Cohn), a documentary film-maker, has just shot a film about her work.
The daughters are brimming with rage which Susan expresses by cutting herself with a razor. She is jealous of Carla for being Daddy's chosen. We also learn, when Susan has a conversation with Ian in the bathroom, that she doesn't wash her hands after using the toilet.
Stan, tall, distinguished and eloquent, seems the sanest family member but as the play unfolds, we learn he seduced Carla, starting when she was 17. "I never forced you," is his self-righteous mantra. He spends most of the play trying to get her to agree in her complicity, impervious to the fact that she was a child who loved him.
We're waiting to find out if Deanna knew what was going on and finally she wakes from her coma and admits that she did. Why didn't she stop it? She felt her daughter should suffer for being her husband's object of desire. What a family! Even Ian is drawn into this perverted behavior when, after Carla finally tells him the whole story, he asks her to tell it again on camera for his documentary. Ian's insistence that Carla needs to tell this story has an eerie echo of Stan's self-righteous pressure.
As Carla, Taylor Coffman grows, getting past her cruelty to Ian into a final confrontational scene with her father. Cohn as Ian is, as Carla says, a breath of fresh air but it's hard to believe he's a documentary film-maker.
You don't have to like this play to appreciate Bridges' care in delineating the characters' emotional arcs and the attention with which director Joe Banno listens to these people. The daughters are so damaged that their beauty counts for nothing. The weeping father can't get past his obsession with Carla. Lebano expresses such dignity and suffering that his self-deception would be pitiful if it weren't a monstrous warped example of the clichâ, "Love conquers all. "