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DEAR LYDIA, Alleyway Theatre
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Sep 23, 2016, 11:47
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Through October 8
DEAR LYDIA, Alleyway Theatre

Advice columnists are all over the media.
They go back to the British papers with their ďagony aunts.Ē
Larry Grayís ďDear Lydia,Ē is about an advice writer who canít take the advice heís given.
Heís a long-time New York City sports writer whose brain has gone hinky on him, forcing him to retreat from covering the New York Mets to living in a cave of an office hiding from the world.
Phineas (David C. Mitchell) is agoraphobic, fearing not just crowds but anyone outside the world of one, guarding his secret hide.
Thatís Martha (Louise Reger) who is at the other end of the intercom, connecting Lydia with the advice-seekers and whatever his media outlet is.
He speaks his answers into a hand recorder and sometimes into the air.
I assume heís writing some sort of newspaper column, since he doesnít seem to broadcast.
Martha weeds out the interesting letters and puts them on the dumbwaiter to the apartment.
What Gray or director Neal Radice has done is put up actors asking some of the questions on a large monitor screen.
This makes up for this essentially being a one-character show, at least for most of the production.
Several of the letters come from people who have sent more than one and are almost in a troubled conversation with Lydia.
Without telling the story, one of those letter writers isnít who he or she seems to be.
What Gray has done is make a one-man show work.
Mitchell roams the stage as one-man casts do.
But, here he talks to Martha over the intercom and she talks back, he reads answers to letters out loud, wanders on and off the bedroom set and there is the large screen of three local actors, Tyler Brown, Emily Yancey and Roger VanDette, successively speaking their letters and taking the audience gaze off the one guy on stage.
Later on?
Letís skip that.
Itís interesting since most of us have had that: Who is this person? reaction to some bizarre advice to a bizarre question.
Clearly, Gray is suggesting the advice-giver is just as troubled as the advice-seeker.
The end result on the Alleyway stage is a man with perhaps more problems than his readers.
While the premise is annoying in the beginning, you eventually feel sorry for him as the events on the stage unwind.
I liked Mitchellís performance, although not so much for Melissa Leventhal.
Itís an interesting play with an interesting premise.
Gray is a pro, with a lot of plays on his performed shelf including nine which had their premieres on the Alleyway stage.
Thatís why if you go and see ďDear Lydia,Ē you may read the advice columnists differently.
Thatís an experience worth having.

A.W.

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