Mid-Life Crisis’ Pied À Terre is “Not Your Usual Love Triangle”

Seth Trucks, left, as Jack Davis with Anna Joy Lehman Katie in Pied À Terre. Photo courtesy Mid Life Crisis Productions, Inc.

By Britin Haller

Produced by Mid Life Crisis Productions, Inc., directed by Peter J. Loewy, and written by cardiothoracic surgeon John S. Anastasi, Pied À Terre is billed as “Not your usual love triangle.”

They can definitely say that again.

Rated R for good reason, it’s chock with enough adult content it should come with a trigger warning, but a list of its content would provide spoilers, so this will be brief. There are multiple uncomfortable sexual comments and much profanity, especially from a teenage girl. The second act has less profanity as the character evolves. Anastasi also wrote Chasing Jack, which received best play honors at the New York Theater Festival.

The two-act Pied À Terre takes place in a Manhattan apartment—the pied á terre of the title—on New York’s Upper East Side. 83rd and 1st to be more precise. Scenic designer Randall Parsons has created an elegant living room, the sort of expensively decorated place a wealthy law partner would have as a home away from home, complete with a baby grand piano and a statue of Rodin’s The Thinker. Wall paintings alternate to indicate the passage of time. Thanks to projection designer Carlo Sabusap, a background screen displays varying images of New York to further enhance the setting.

The owner of the apartment is Jack, a Manhattan attorney and law partner who resides in Connecticut, but works in New York City, and so has taken a place to both get away from the pressures of his home life and cut back on his commute. As Pied À Terre opens, his wife, Julia, has just discovered said apartment, and also Katie, the 19-year-old Jack has been living there with after he met her one night at a food emporium while leaving the ballet. “Do you usually pick up girls dressed like a penguin?” Katie asked Jack. Understandably, Julia is not happy to find Katie there. As the two women make sense of it, a ping-pong match of reveals begins, sometimes feeling like a shell game.

The action jumps from present day to moments in the past with the timeline projected up high and noted in the playbill. Still, it can get mystifying, especially during a scene when the three actors appear together. A targeted spotlight might have alleviated some of the confusion. Nicole Roach as the lighting director, (doubling as the stage manager,) wasn’t really given a moment to shine as the set was either brightly lit during the scenes, or falling into total darkness between them.

Seth Trucks stars as Jack Davis, the man with a thousand secrets. Trucks, a South Florida actor with many impressive credits under his belt, has a great voice and does a mean Clark Gable impression, and one can tell he really is enjoying himself, most obviously when he’s stomping around as Don Quixote.

Christy Antonio, left, as TV journalist Julia Davis confronts Anna Joy Lehman Katie in Pied À Terre. Photo courtesy Mid Life Crisis Productions, Inc.

Christy Antonio as Jack’s wife, prim and proper TV journalist Julia Davis, is a stone-cold rock, or as described by Jack, “I’m the microwave, she’s the freezer.” Not something you want to hear from the young girl living in your husband’s apartment. Julia is also calculating, and especially not happy when she finds Jack’s finally finished opus on the piano and realizes this teenager has been her husband’s muse.

Anna Joy Lehman appears as Katie, the gum-chewing ex-hooker from the wrong side of the tracks who goes to Mass every Sunday and is now studying to be an interior designer. She is everything Julia is not. Lehman portrays her character’s exasperation well, as she wracks her brain trying to unravel the mystery before her as to why Jack takes her to Chuck E. Cheese’s for game night and locks his door at night. “Am I an experiment? A tax deduction?” and her ultimate Julia Roberts a la Pretty Woman transition is believable. Lehman is a triple threat, (sings, dances, and acts) and recently starred as Wednesday in The Addams Family Musical at the Fort Myers Theatre.

The original score was written by New Yorker Michael Valenti, who composed Pope John Paul II’s Central Park entrance music when he visited in 1995, and whose background is so extensive he was given a retrospective of his work at Lincoln Center. The music is lovely, although some of the not-so-smooth transitions tend to be jarring on the ears.

Denise Proffitt’s costumes are adequate in that Katie as the prostitute wears short shorts, a halter top, and platform shoes, and Julia looks the part of an uptight suburbanite, although a different blouse during her scene from the past seems necessary. Jack is adorable while brandishing his sword in his Don Quixote costume, but he could also have done with something other than the same black shirt pretty much throughout.

In the end, Pied À Terre is a roller coaster of reveals and emotions that will likely keep you guessing until the end. Billed as “a play about the truth,” Pied À Terre is really all about lies. Any real resolution is left up to the imagination, although a lovely bit regarding a child’s carousel adds a symbolism whose true meaning is still resonating with this reviewer days later.

 Britin Haller is the Senior Editor for Charade Media. Her latest novel is Dumpster Dying by Michelle Bennington, available where books are sold. Find Britin across social media and at Charadebooks.com

Pied À Terre from Mid Life Crisis Productions, Inc., runs through Feb. 18 at the Willow Theatre at the Sugar Sand Park Community Center, 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton. Performances are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Running time approx. 100 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. Tickets $25, or $18 for a group of six or more. Call the box office at 561-347-3948 Tuesday-Saturday from 12-5 p.m., or visit piedaterreplay.com.  

 

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