A Lie of the Mind

Sam Shepard’s “A Lie of the Mind” is not a happy show. The audience won’t walk away with smiles –although there are several witty undertones. The show is, however, a master at seeping deep into the human soul and will challenge one to think about life in a different mannera.

Directed by Jax Kubiak, the show follows the lives of two families in a three-act story that takes place in the American west. The two families, one composed of Baylor, Meg, Mike and Beth and the other, composed of Lorraine, Sally, Frankie and Jake, are connected by the marriage of Jake and Beth. The show opens with the audience learning that Jake has beaten his wife Beth once again, leaving her with severe brain damage. The play follows the lives of the two families as Jake attempts to piece back together his life after abusing Beth, and Beth’s family as they struggle to support Beth.

Although the plot of the show revolves around Jake and Beth, there are no lead roles in the show—every member of this cast plays an important part in the storytelling. Sophomore Allison Kessler is haunting and brilliant as Beth—her performance is heartbreaking. Freshman Matt Kridel, who portrays her husband Jake, is equally excellent. His portrayal of two extreme personalities is disturbing.  And freshman Keefer Kopco, who plays Jake’s brother Frankie, shows his versatility in character roles—he’s been in all three mainstage Schuster theatre shows this year.

Juniors Ryann Beaumont, who plays Jake’s sister Sally, and Patrick Chounet, who plays Beth’s brother Mike, are both veterans on the Schuster stage. Beaumont has great chemisty, both with Kridel and senior Nicole Dohoda’s, who plays Jake’s mother, Lorraine.  Chounet is excellent as Mike, showcasing his ability to be both sweet and intimidating. Dohoda hits a perfect balance of being motherly and slightly crazed in the role of Lorraine.

Senior Kathleen Cahill, in the role of Meg, Beth’s mother, and Schuster theatre newcomer senior Alex ‘Q’ Bieler, in the role of Baylor, Beth’s father, round out this excellent cast. Cahill’s talent shines through with her witty, almost ridiculous portrayal of Meg and although Bieler is new to the stage, you’d hardly know it from his performance.

 One of the most memorable moments of the show is a scene with Beth, Meg and Mike. In the scene, Beth explains that there has been a war created within her, a metaphor that can be carried throughout the entire show. Each character struggles with their own personal wars, battles whose puzzle pieces aren’t locked together until the very end of the show.

The set is beautiful, with strong attention to detail— one interesting detail is that the two separate households, although not together, could be fit together with their puzzle-piece-like walls. It’s also notable to mention sophomore Shawn Hogue and junior Beth Gaertner, who are also important members of the cast – while they never appear on stage, both are understudies for the show.

Overall, “A Lie of the Mind” is an outstanding show that should not be missed.

“A Lie of the Mind” runs this weekend, 8 p.m. this Thursday through Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are free with a student I.D. and reservations can be made by calling the Schuster Theatre box office at 814-871-7494.

CARLY LYONS

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