Left to right: Dori Salois, Richard Rivera, Melanie McCorkle and William Parker Shore in "Clever Little Lies." Photograph courtesy of Point Loma Playhouse
Infidelity is nothing to laugh about, but with Joe DiPietro’s 2013 comedy Clever Little Lies it’s hard to restrain yourself. At Point Loma Playhouse, where Jerry Pilato is directing a production that runs through Nov. 12, he actually offers a note in the playbill explaining that the play does not intend to offend but rather to treat the subject of cheating with a light touch. Whether that’s possible or not is a debate for another time.
The truth is, Point Loma’s Clever Little Lies is frequently funny. There are just enough edges – and mild profanities – in DiPietro’s script to elevate the material above the category of a safe, Neil Simonish approach to adult relationships. The story goes that middle-aged Bill (Richard Rivera) finds out from his son Billy (William Parker Shore) that the latter is cheating on his wife Jane (Melanie McCorkle). Billy’s motives seem flimsy and narcissistic from the start, so it’s hard to muster any understanding for him, especially when feisty new mom Jane seems like a real catch.
The dramedy culminates with a visit by Billy and the unsuspecting Jane (along with their 3-month-old baby – heard but not seen) to the suburban digs of Bill and invariably blunt wife Alice (Dori Salois). While one secret is guarded during this bantering interlude, another is revealed, which keeps Clever Little Lies moving briskly forward.
The intended focal point of the story is mother Alice, but it’s Rivera’s genuine and even vulnerable performance as father Bill that sells this story and holds it together, too.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.