note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Beverly Creasey
Artistic director Spiro Veloudos begins every performance at the Lyric Stage with a proud spiel about the talent of the Boston actors he employs. A lot of local companies import New York actors in the (mistaken) belief that they are better trained. If anyone needed proof positive, it was provided last night when Julie Jurasek stepped in, script in hand, for the lead actress in Lisa Loomer’s LIVING OUT, when a family emergency took her out of the show.
Jurasek was sensational, juggling a baby, a handbag and a script simultaneously, as her character shows a new nanny the ropes. The play’s title refers to nannies who live in, as opposed to nannies who don’t live with the family but commute each day to care for their charges.
The Lyric’s nanny play is not, as you might assume, about shaken baby syndrome, something we here in Boston learned a lot about a couple of years ago. Loomer’s play turns out, however, to be about every other syndrome known to man ---well, except for maybe chronic fatigue syndrome, Von Recklinghausen’s and the China syndrome.
Loomer trots out hot button issues like English as a second language, the U.S.’s undeclared “war” on El Salvador, gang violence, feminism, professional ethics, the criminal justice system, illegal aliens, the Holocaust, the economy, social security and air pollution, to name but a few of the characters’ concerns.
The issue heavy play is made workable by director Lois Roach’s topnotch cast—a cast who know how to make Loomer’s stilted dialogue funny, a bit too funny for my taste: Loomer gets lots of laughs from unpleasant stereotypes. Fortunately they’re offset by the sensitive performance of Mariela Lopez-Ponce as the nanny who sacrifices her own family for the one she works for. See LIVING OUT for Lopez-Ponce and the seven other Boston actors who can rise above a problematic script and make this nannygate gurgle along.