I was interested in seeing All Your Hard Work at the Lillian Theatre for several reasons. The Lillian is one of the best 99-seat locales in town and, if nothing else, is comfortable (which is not universally true of the small theatres). Next, the play was a world premiere directed by Michael Matthews, one of the best directors around. The last reason to entice me to go was that the play features Amy K. Harmon and Michael Terry Grant, whose work I have seen on television. The production is by the Brimmer St. Theatre Company, a company I am not very familiar with.
My expectations were for the most part well rewarded. All Your Hard Work is an intriguing two-hander where sex is used as a means of manipulation and revenge figures as a prominent motive. The two actors are more than up to the task and, with director Matthews’s help, they deliver a couple of powerhouse performances. What I most appreciated is the fact that the play isn’t loaded in favor of one character or the other, and their struggle is not really predictable in terms of what is about to transpire and what the outcome will be.
The set, a good design by Stephen Gifford who has designed many terrific sets around town, is a girl’s apartment, but the theatre has been totally rearranged to produce an “in-the-round” seating effect The lighting is also very well done, by Tim Swiss who recently designed the lighting for Matthews's The Color Purple at the Celebration Theatre. The writer is Miles Brandman, who has a good ear for dialogue and suspense.
The play is far from perfect and feels more like an extended scene rather than a full play. Ultimately, the play doesn’t amount to much of anything. We never really learn what the stakes are for the female character beyond being a dumped woman, but the show is well worth the viewing for some of the acting. It's sexy and, as I have stated, not all that predictable. All Your Hard Work is playing at the Lillian Theatre until August 25.