“Lydia Stryk dives deep into the human condition placing irony, humor and whimsy delicately close to raw, enflamed nerves of unvarnished truths. Over and over again, she manages to strike this balance and take you to a place where artifice is stripped away, and a deeper beauty and purpose exposed.” — Susan Angelo
“Lydia Stryk’s compelling An Accident is a fictionalized account of the recovery process the playwright herself went through after an accident, but it’s equally the drama of something Stryk was denied — coming to terms with the man who hit her…. The sharply defined stages of her progress occur within the context of their wary, forthright, prickly, warm, confrontational and erotically charged interactions. The degree to which the character makes us feel her physical struggle in our own bodies makes her sinuous progress our triumph, too.”
— Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
“Introspective at times, and often seething with cynical humor, An Accident is uncompromisingly human … The play takes us on a roller-coaster of emotion. … It’s all here: guilt, sorrow, remorse, fear, shame, longing, desire … Its truth cannot be denied. It’s powerful and riveting theater.”
— Clinton Stark, Stark Insider
“Lydia Stryk’s play is a pounding two-person drama with utterly compelling pile drivers of empathy for the characters and surprisingly good humor.”
— Albert Goodwin San Francisco Examiner
“An Accident will keep you at the edge of your seat. …It’s an emotional surprise.“
— Jerry Friedman, KGO Radio
“An Accident has a harrowing sense of truth that is hard to shake. With her stark, poetic language, Stryk captures the frailty of life and the omnipresence of mortality in everyday activities.”
— Karen D’Souza San Jose Mercury News
“One of the most intense pieces you could possibly see.”
“The play is an emotional testament to the power of dialogue. The hospital bed is the focal point of scenes, charged in erotic revelation…. The audience is entranced and impressed at such brutally honest moments. There are instances of wit to temper the emotion, as the multi-layered implications of guilt, disaster and disability are explored by the two, sometimes to unexpectedly hilarious effect. Their shared accident puts all of life on hold for this unlikely pair. And the audience feels that way too.”
— Gerard Stanley Hornby, Pittsburgh City Paper
“An Accident explores a most unpoetic matter — a human body run over by a car — but does so with intense, careful poetry. At the end, we know we have found not revenge, not romance, but grace.“
— Theatre Ghost LA
“Of the two strangers we meet in a hospital room, in this compulsively watchable and traumatic play by the American writer Lydia Stryk, one would “give everything,” as she says, to lift even one hand…
For big babies like me, just the sight of a hospital bed on a stage is enough to make me flinch, or dread some chin-up type chronicle of pluck. But An Accident isn’t either. In Trevor Schmidt’s production the notion of recovery — of body, of memory, of moral equilibrium — is a rather delicate and resonating question. You can’t not look at an accident, they say. Exactly.
It happens under an inspired design element (Schmidt himself is the designer), an elegant overhead lighting installation that reinvents the deadening institutional fluorescent fixture as a thing of beauty — a serpent anatomized as a spine slatted with vertebrae and demarcated with red twinkling lights. And the Northern Light Theatre season finale is graced, too, by unusual heft in casting. Two seasoned pros, Melissa Thingelstad and Michael Peng, create a dynamic of (very) unexpected complexity. As Libby, Thingelstad delivers a performance of remarkable nuance, detail and lustre, conveying by voice and eyes alone an intricate and shifting mixture of fear, panic, simmering rage, an appreciation of absurdity, and something very like curiosity, however unwilling, about the mysterious persistence of her sole visitor. She makes us feel the physical struggle built into defying the body and reanimating it. And it’s a measure of the character’s strong will, as Thingelstad conjures, that gallows humour colours prickliness. It seems odd to use the word fun under the circumstances, but she’s fun to watch.
You wouldn’t say that of Peng’s abject Anton. He’s a flinch on legs. His keynote, conveyed emphatically by the actor, is intense guilt. He’s abased by it, horrified by it, terrified and beaten into submission by it, over and over. It’s only as the play proceeds, along with Libby’s progress and the characters’ serial encounters, that we discover layers under this surface. Why is he here? In his way Anton is attempting to fix his own damaged life: healing by presence. He’s a history teacher, whose specialty is Civil War battles. Those gory battlefields are, to say the least, an improbably extravagant metaphor for struggles in a hospital room. But you’ll be surprised by the way it flowers late in the play.
Recovery is its own drama, of course: some things are recoverable in life, some not. Creating drama from discovery is a more ticklish business. In its way, An Accident defies your expectations by offering an adventure into the unknown where the damages are random and the outcomes, both for perpetrator and victim, are uncertain.“
— Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal
“When I returned from whatever place Northern Light Theatre’s An Accident had taken me, the first image that came to mind was “human tsunami”, massive instant physical devastation … followed by wave after wave of emotional carnage, numbed people holding on to anything available to avoid being swept away.
A catastrophic event can be reduced to manageable terms, statistics in a report, notes on a medical chart, but the experience is indescribable outside of the accounts of those on the ground at the time. It’s why strangers meet at accident sites to erect roadside memorials, or how war veterans can sit together and calmly discuss a horrendous battle they were each part of. The need for understanding and closure overrides all other concerns.
So it is with Michael Peng’s guilt-stricken, downward spiralling Anton, who arrives at the hospital bed of Melissa Thingelstad’s Libby. As is sometimes the case when one or more of the senses is diminished, another compensates, and while her body is paralyzed Libby’s heightened mind is firing on all cylinders, and Anton will not be awarded absolution easily, if at all. Accounts must be settled. Libby’s telescopic focus holds a magnifying glass over Anton, withering under the heat of her scalpel-sharp inquisition. Truths are revealed and characters are shaded as their psyches begin to surface and fight to oppose this one tragic moment from dominating their entire lives. It’s not a clean fight or a fair one, and it leads to a boundary-smashing moment that is simultaneously a treacherous headstand on the very edge of the abyss and the most natural thing in the world to have happened.
For a dialogue-driven play centering around immobility, it ironically processes through you much in the same fashion as a movement piece does, drawn from the players through the antenna that is the massive spinal column hovering over both set and story and transmitted directly to the bodies of the audience.
Peng and Thingelstad’s performances are sterling (remember that word), where training and process relax comfortably in the back seat as artistry takes the wheel and fearlessly hits the open road. Lydia Stryk’s script, lean, clean, layered with gallows humor amid the pain and recrimination and devoid of ersatz sentiment, is an actors’ dream, life as a battle of inches, second-to-second, where damage is sudden and indiscriminate, and surprisingly, the same for healing and recovery.
Every single element of this production melded together beautifully, from its echoey first moments to the wistful final grace notes of music that hearkens back to the great MTM television dramas, reverberating through the hallways of what could easily be St. Eligius itself.
This is where Trevor Schmidt and NLT excel, running a wire up the vena cava and non-judgementally scoping out the darker chambers of the heart in shows that stay with you long after they close. I’m travelling three hours each way to see it again, and it’s my pleasure.“
— afta the lafta
“One random incident. The culmination of a thousand thousand such. Such makes up our lives, for good and ill and all things in between. Is there meaning there? … Or do we create meaning? Does that even matter?
An Accident is the second show I have reviewed by the Griot Theatre, and hopefully will prove nowhere near the last. Both times I’ve felt deeply moved, as well as startled by the vision presented.
Soon enough, we begin to meet the characters. Libby (Kacie Rogers) wakes up after a terrible accident. She was hit by a car then run over. She cannot move. Her arms and legs will not obey. For the moment she is broken. Perhaps forever. As we meet her, we see the powerful will and imagination she clearly possesses, and courage as she strives to remember anything, even her name.
Next we meet Anton (Kent Faulcon), the history teacher who ran her over. A somewhat timid man, and a far from bad one. No one knows who “Libby” might be. No one has come forward. She has no visitors. Well, no one but Anton, who feels a need. The police do say this was an accident. No one’s fault. Anton and Libby both accept this, intellectually. They struggle mightily with feeling it.
Here is much of what gives this play its impact, the deeply personal struggle of both to live with and process what has happened and is happening. In fact both have the same goal, healing. Both always want Libby to walk again, to regain her memories, her former life whatever that may be. Along the way we get little if any sentimentality. Libby comes across as an interesting person, a remarkable one. But hardly a kind of beautific saint or martyr. She’s angry! Sometimes. She can be petty, terrified, sublime, cruel, childish, enraged, sarcastic — all within a few minutes. Trauma doesn’t mold one into a plastic shape of an angel.
Instead she remains wonderfully, frustratingly human — as does her opposite number, who needs some healing of his own. A good man, but again in no way some caricature of what some say humans should be.
No, like Libby, Anton remains a person we recognize, to whom we listen and can understand, such understanding helping us see ourselves.
That captures the dynamic of the play.
I don’t usually care for plays that seek to answer questions. They all too often become rather crude polemics. An Accident avoids this trap by exploring a question rather than simply answering it. That question “How do we heal?” of course has many answers, and the play shows us a few — not formulae, not pat stereotypes urging us to shut part of ourselves off, not thoughtless truisms. Rather shows us two people healing. And in touching our hearts maybe helps us heal a bit too, from the individual aches we all endure, whatever the details. I left the theatre very touched, very moved, and very impressed.“
— Zahir Blue
“As the Berlin Wall collapses around her, a desensitized civil servant discovers her heart and soul through the songs of Bob Dylan in Lady Lay, a thoughtful and touching comedy by playwright Lydia Stryk. 7 Stages’ U.S. premiere bodes exceedingly well for the long-time troupe as it embarks on the next phase of its career. …In more ways than one, Lady Lay truly rocks.”
— Burt Osborne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“It is no shock that 7 Stages has been around for 35 years. The U.S. premiere of Lydia Stryk’s Lady Lay has proven why this Atlanta theater institution has staying power. …Lady Lay is set in Berlin amongst the revolutionary era of the Berlin Wall coming down. The backdrop is the political revolution, but the center of the story is the personal revolution that takes place inside of the main character, MariAnne, as she moves from a humdrum life of files, lines and not-listening to clients in a repeated cycle, to being sparked alive by Bob Dylan and his music. This was one of those rare shows that you leave saying, “that was fucking cool.” And you totally mean it. Lady Lay, is a do-not-miss-this kind of theatrical production.”
— Busking at the Seams
“A tone poem of personal liberation, inspired by the music and words of Bob Dylan and the fall the Berlin Wall in 1989.”
— Collin Kelley, Atlanta IN TOWN
“Lydia Stryk’s witty writing merges the best of Bob Dylan with a focal point in history to remind us of music’s power to not just heal or better a nation, but to define ourselves in ways we never imagined.”
— Kelly McCorkendale, DC Theatre Scene
“Does anyone remember David Rabe’s Sticks and Bones? The play was a hard-hitting commentary on the then-raging Vietnam War … Before anybody mounts a revival that would comment on our own times of war and the serious injuries that present-day soldiers sustain … they should take a look at Lydia Stryk’s powerful new drama American Tet. In these times, we need a hard-hitting play like this one … It’s the finest drama I’ve seen in months.”
— Peter Filichia, TheatreMania.com
“Much as Arthur Miller did with the Lomans and the mythos of the salesman, Stryk explores how the core dreams, denials and unspoken traumas of the Krombachers, an Army family, bleed into every aspect of their lives to exact a payment when they least expect it.”
— Jean Randlich, TruthDig
“American Tet … treats the Iraq war much as Macbird, Oh, What a Lovely War and “Platoon” did Vietnam.”
— Michael Kilian, Chicago Tribune
“American Tet deals with what war does to those who wage it. Stryk has written an impressive piece that does not subscribe to cheap morals or the denunciation of its characters…. Rather, it provides a very authentic description of the state of the deeply insecure US. One would like to see it on a bigger stage.”
— Esther Slevogt, Die Tageszeitung
“Lydia Stryk belongs to a group of authors bringing a breath of fresh air into theatre. In this latest work of hers with its enigmatic title, she delivers nothing other than an anti-war and anti-hero play. Its characters, chiselled with the precision of a goldsmith – … a father who is a Vietnam vet, a son serving in Irak, a mother volunteering in a troop-support group, and a female soldier returned to an entirely disfigured country – are the point of departure for a very raw and lucid satirical tract on America. Through the description of a typical American family drowning in military tradition, Stryk offers us a disillusioned vision of the greatest world power trapped in a war that it no longer has under control. A tableau of inglorious characters prey to doubts and deception, put into relief by the fine, precise writing of American Tet.”
— Letizia Mariotti, La Gazette de Berlin
“The Glamour House is one of the most accomplished productions I’ve ever seen on the Tony-award-winning Victory Gardens mainstage. Playwright Lydia Stryk displays an extraordinary talent for the medium. Her dialogue has an astonishing rhythm … a cadence that lets characterization flow naturally from the actors. She is capable of crafting short, almost elliptical scenes that move the action along deftly and economically. The Glamour House doesn’t have a wasted moment. But what Stryk is best at is constructing a feeling of dread and of making the audience want more. … This is the kind of drama that’s certain to be performed for years to come. It has all the right ingredients of a classic.”
— Rick Reed, Windy City Times
“Lydia Stryk is a master of the turn of phrase and taut dialogue…but what makes the play remarkable besides the language is her ability to create characters … her understanding of how women interact with one another. It’s a very contemporary play but nonetheless an interesting period piece.”
—Chicago Public Radio
“Lydia Stryk’s winning The Glamour House is populated by richly crafted characters and offers a wonderful window into women’s desire. It certainly has all the sheen and glamour an audience might seek.”
— Post-Tribune Chicago
“The lights rise … immediately we know that this is a play about secrets, about a pained history that will eventually reveal itself. The thrill is in discovering how the story will unfold.”
— Gay Chicago Magazine
“Most Stimulating New Work: The Playwright”
— PerformInk Chicago
“The House of Lily presents a wealth of resonance, most grippingly, the portrayal of the aging, mentally wandering Zig – as well as themes of love vs. intellectualism; of the fate of one who harangues equally against men, women, marriage, family, children, without having experienced them; of fantasy, wishes, reality; of the interchangeability of relationships – wife, mistress, lover, … mother, daughter, father – and the unifying constant of them all, love. Most touchingly and movingly, of aging, helplessness, memory and the security it brings – the security of living in the past. We can empathize with Zig: perhaps his only anchor in a now-uncertain world is the ability to identify Lily as Ellen, the wife to whom he was the center of all things, and who was, perhaps, equally his own center.”
“Monte Carlo…is alternately hilarious—almost ridiculous at times in the Charles Ludlam sense—and poignant. A sure choice for smaller theatre companies and those interested in lifting female roles out of the stereotypes and into a rich reality, Monte Carlo is consummately feminine, consummately human, and wonderfully entertaining.”
“In a bittersweet, sparkling gem of a play, Lydia Stryk examines a fractious, yet loving, relationship between an English working-class mother and daughter that has stretched through…decades of evening meals, petty disagreements, shared humor and late night chats from the depths of their twin beds.”
— The Denver Post