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Ridiculous Fraud

by Beth Henley

In college I played Babe in Crimes of the Heart and it was the most wonderful experience - rehearsals and performances were so rewarding and the ensemble was near and dear to my heart. So, naturally, I was super excited to read Henley's Ridiculous Fraud, which is similar in a few ways to Crimes except that this go-around we have three brothers who are getting themselves into trouble.

I wasn't nearly as moved by this play as I was with Crimes and more than a few times I was confused. For the Times review (which actually agrees with me.. or I .. with it.. ), click the title link above. BUT, for the most part, it is a very entertaining play. The brothers are so very different - Andrew, the oldest, is a small-time politician who envisions himself as a king. Kap is in the middle and is somewhat lost in the world. He's happiest when he's duck hunting. Lafcad, the youngest who changed his name from Laurence in order to honor a somewhat macabre 19-century journalist, calls off his own wedding at the beginning of the play and hides for the better part of the first scene.

Andrew is clearly the organized one. He says at the beginning:
I have a new theory. Everyone should sleep less. I go to bed fifteen minutes later and set my clock fifteen minutes earlier. You cannot imagine what can be done with three and a half extra hours in the week. That's fourteen hours a month. A whole day's worth of work on "things you don't have time for."
Yes, but then you're tired. I love sleep. I try not to love it as much as I do, but I just happen to need a lot of sleep. I always have, so I see your point character-in-play-but-also-voice-of-author, but I am gonna hit my snooze button and you can't make me stop!

Perhaps my favorite line, comes from the boys' uncle. He seems like a lost little man, one who bought a diamond ring for a street performer twenty+ years his junior. To his nephew he says:
I can't bear to talk to a sales person. They only want to sell you things and it's so upsetting. This buzzing comes into my ears and I pay whatever they want. Whatever they require I let them have it. 
Okay. I can relate to this. I'm gonna tell a story. So, my freshman year at NYU, being new to the city, I fell for this marketing trick where a guy or gal comes up to you and says, "Where do you get your hair done?" and he or she is dressed nicely and coiffed and you think, oh this person isn't homeless or asking me for money, they want to make me look good. WRONG. They DO want your money. And while it's not a scam, you basically buy an appointment at a salon and they throw in a free makeup session or a manicure, it still feels dirty because you're giving this stranger your credit card number on the street (or sitting on a bench in Washington Square Park after the salesman asks if he can take you to dinner). SO fast-forward six years! and what happens to me the other day? That's right, this guy says, "Hey yoga-girl, where do you get your hair done?" and basically cuts me off from crossing the street. And I said, "Oh, no thanks, I fell for this before." and I should have just kept walking but I said that and he JUMPED on it like all good salesmen and said, "Oh, well how was your experience? Who was it with? etc etc." and ten minutes later I've bought another one of these gd things with no desire to attend his salon! What is wrong with me?! Bottom line - he was one smooth talker and I better have a fierce haircut in the very near future.

Wednesday Play-a-day: Becky's New Car by Steven Dietz

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