A Lovesong For Miss Lydia, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Playwright Don Evans packs issues of religion, community, adultery, and age discrimination into his story about a lonely church elder (Tina Marie Wright) who rents a room to a charming stranger with a questionable reputation (J.J. McCormick). Miss Lydia first welcomes him, then suspects he’s taken her money, finds out she’s wrong, lets him throw her a birthday party, finds out he’s had affairs with two of her loved ones, agrees to give him her savings so he can run a candy store out of her living room, endures his drunken rage when “the man” won’t give him a loan, suspects he’s taken her money again, and–you get the idea. This all seems to happen in the space of about two weeks.

One could argue that Evans tried to throw too much into one script. But his play could have supported the weight if he’d used his time more effectively. In two and a half hours these people do a lot of talking–and Evans has a great ear for realistic dialogue. But instead of gradually revealing new layers of themselves, the characters repeat the same emotional patterns while lobbing new problems out of nowhere, resulting in a somewhat lumpy patchwork. Fortunately, what the play lacks in closure and flow it makes up in humanity and humor, which the curiously young but very competent cast brings forth in abundance.

–Kim Wilson