By Larry Gray
by Anthony Chase
Playwright Larry Gray is a favorite of Alleyway Theatre. His Louisiana Trilogy was staged at this theater, all in one season, years ago, to great effect. Dear Lydia is the ninth Larry Gray play to debut at Alleyway.
In Dear Lydia, now having its world premiere at Alleyway, we meet a former sports writer whose agoraphobia has sent him to the confines of his apartment, where he now writes the advice column, “Dear Lydia.” The plot involves his ability to give excellent advice but not accept it, and his daughter’s effort to lure her father back out into the world.
David C. Mitchell plays the sports writer. Louise Reger, in an offstage role, plays his assistant. Melissa Leventhal plays his daughter. All give their characters great humor and warmth.
The play presents us with intriguing characters and a compelling dramatic situation. Without giving too much away, the introduction of the daughter into the plot is especially clever and fun.
The point of a world premiere production is to refine and develop the work. In this case, while the characters and the premise are interesting, Gray will want to find a more engaging direction for the plot. Characters do not a play make. As I watched this debut production, I kept entertaining “what ifs.” What if the play started with our agoraphobic hero having made his way outside? What if the daughter’s needs were more fully developed, and so forth. These are the sorts of questions Mr. Gray is sure to be asking as he considers what to keep and what to alter as he adjusts the dramatic adventure of his appealing characters.