L.A. Scene July-August 2011: GLAAD Hancock Park “Top Chef” Invasion, Marja-Lewis Ryan’s “Dysnomia”



Hey, you know what usually sucks? Theatre in Los Angeles. The only thing worse is gay theatre in Los Angeles. So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to see a lesbian play in Hollywood. To my sheer delight, said play didn’t suck even a little bit. 

The central character in Dysnomia is Mary, a wife and mother on the brink of turning 40. Her husband is hapless, but a good guy, but his hairy hands have begun to bug her.  She never liked them, come to think of it.  Or this life. Is this all there is?  Is it boredom?  A mid-life crisis? Apathy?  Her daily wardrobe of one-inch heel cowboy boots paired with trousers should have been a clue, but she just can’t find the word until …  Her best friend’s stepdaughter Sam arrives for Thanksgiving, on break from, where else, Smith College. Sam is a lesbian and likely because she is 22 and goes to school in a hotbed of sapphic intensity, she’s quite unperturbed by her own sexuality. She describes her own coming out experience and voila, Mary has a word for what she’s been feeling. Gay! 

How exciting to be able to define what’s been driving you insane. Then you can actually deal with it.  Guess who isn’t so psyched about all of this? Correct! The husband and kids freak out and move out. The rest of the play follows the family, friends, and Mary, as they all try to come to terms with this revelation. 

So frequently, characters who come out later in life are portrayed as closeted or repressed. Dysnomia finally addresses the more common phenomenon of people who are either fluid and their sexuality has evolved, or they just plain didn’t know because it never came up.

Mary is played with beautiful integrity by Heidi Sulzman. Sam is played by the playwright/The Four-Faced Liar screenwriter Marja-Lewis Ryan, who gives an extremely skilled and natural performance. She looks about 12-years-old, so I don’t know how any of this is possible, but that is what I’m told. 

Dysnomia has been extended through September 10.  It is playing at the Lounge Theater and you can visit www.plays411.com/dysnomia or call 323-965-9996 for tickets.

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