The Lying Kind doesn't seem like it would be a laugh-a-minute play. The show opens with a couple of English constables who have been tasked with notifying an elderly couple that their daughter has died in a car crash on Christmas Eve. When the kind-hearted, albeit misguided and inept, police officers can't quite bring themselves to tell the couple the truth, lies snowball — and drive Anthony Neilson's show, which opens Thursday at TheatreWorks.
Associated with the British in-yer-face theater movement, the Scottish Neilson is known for shocking audiences, and a black comedy like The Lying Kind is in many ways an unconventional choice for the holidays. But that was also true in 2008, when TheatreWorks put on the show's Rocky Mountain premiere ("Monty Darko," Dec. 4, 2008), and everything went just fine.
In fact, says TheatreWorks artistic director Murray Ross, "It turned out to be the funniest show we've ever done," and he's been getting requests for a repeat performance ever since.
This year's director (Geoffrey Kent), cast and set design are different from the first production's. The new ensemble includes guest artists from New York (John Windsor-Cunningham as the old man, Balthasar) and Denver (sole returning member Billie McBride, as Balthasar's wife). Local star Sammie Joe Kinnett, who won the Pikes Peak Arts Council Award for Best Actor in 2013 and was nominated again in 2014, plays a bumbling police officer along with his constable cohort, Steven Cole Hughes. Emma Messenger (as a fierce hunter of pedophiles), Julian Bucknall (a cross-dressing vicar) and Autumn Silvas (the daughter) complete the seven-person cast.
Ross says that choosing a play for the holidays is challenging for theater companies, which is why you often see the same productions year after year. The Lying Kind is different and "truly hilarious. And we can all use that at Christmas."