Theatre Review: Other Desert Cities


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Secrets have a way of surfacing eventually. And this new play at Sacramento's B Street Theatre follows one family coming to grips with a long-buried blowup. The drama was a Pulitzer prize finalist last year.

Picture a palatial residence in Palm Springs, the home of the Wyeths. Once Hollywood icons, they’re now retired – and potent fundraisers for Republican causes.

But their grown-up children are Democrats. The son produces a cheesy reality TV series in LA, while the daughter is a writer, living in the liberal Northeast. So there’s lots of barbed teasing.

Mother: “I think living on the East Coast has given you the impression that sarcasm is alluring and charming. (audience laughter) Sarcasm is the perview of teenagers and homosexuals.”

That politically incorrect remark reflects the mother’s concern about the way her 40-ish kids have turned out.

Mother: “It’s our fault, Lyman. We failed at providing normalcy. We had two children, both of whom have entirely abnormal careers.”

Daughter: “Three, actually.”

Mother. “Excuse me.”

Daughter: “Three children.”

Mother: “Three. Of course.”

And there it is. With that mention a third child – a sensitive topic the parents always avoid – what began as a generation gap satire turns into a full-fledged family drama about tough moral choices. You see, the daughter is about to publish a memoir that candidly discussing the blow-up between the parents and that absent third child. And when the politically prominent parents read the manuscript, they flip.

Father: She pictures us a ghouls who drove him to become some sort of murderer.

Revelations are in store as the family finally talks about the painful past. And in addition to the probing, dramatic script, the acting and direction in this show are also excellent. This is perhaps the best production that the B Street has mounted in recent years.

“Other Desert Cities” continues at Sacramento’s B Street Theatre through September 29.




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