“The greatest lie is 95% truth,”
The “late” Byron Meade
Two men with a plan. One man in possible danger. Who will come out alive and who will be rich beyond his dreams? It’s anybody’s guess. Writer/director Randall Gray sets up a riveting scenario that lingers for two more episodes. So, it is imperative to see the first segment in this trilogy. Miss it and you will be open of those fools who won’t understand the finale. You don’t want to be that person.
Award-winning mystery writer Byron Meade (Jay Antonos) is dried up in ideas. He needs something fresh, something that will capture people’s attention and put him back on top. He convinces his hot-looking assistant Joshua Townsend (the handsome Jesse Welch) who is an aspiring writer, to help execute a plan. Meade wants to test out a new idea. He hatches a plan to have his nemesis Christopher Devlin (the superbly talented Robert Sherry) gone. It sounds easy enough. Invite the prey for a divine dinner, one that includes blood sausages, have Joshua seduce him —even though they are both straight—and see what happens.
Christopher soon arrives and is perplexed why Joshua comes on to him. After repeatedly telling the aspiring writer that he’s not gay, he flips the script and begins unbuttoning Joshua’s shirt. Now, Joshua backs off for the moment. After dinner, Chris becomes sick. Byron offers him a drink to settle his stomach and nerves then, Chris passes out. Byron sits, drinks and watches and dictates to Josh how to organize the living room, as they discussed earlier. The plan works well. Too damn well. Now, it’s morning and both Byron and Joshua have to clean up the mess to salvage their plan.
Antonos is amazing to watch as the aggressive Meade. He could be the doppelgänger to the late writer Norman Mailer. Both men had a machismo attitude and were awful sons-of-bitches with extraordinary writing talent. Byron doesn’t take any mess from anyone and displays his arrogance proudly like a kid who won the spelling bee. After his part in taking down Devlin, the seemingly sweet Joshua becomes stronger and somewhat manipulative. Welch is wonderful in this complex role. His good looks and naive behavior, at first, provides him the perfect mask of virtue as his aspirations to become a best-selling novelist is now the priority. He takes full advantage of the situation. After being Byron’s servant for three years, who could blame him?
Welsh takes his character from innocuous to devious in a steady pace. No need to rush because the truth will come out. As the pawn in this twisted game, actor Robert Sherry shows the intricacy of his character. Is he gay or straight? Did he purposely try to ruin Meade and become the new King of Mystery Novels? Who is Christopher Devlin? That is the genius of Sherry’s portrayal of this seemingly sinister character. You don’t know whether to shake his hand and give a one-arm hug or use the spare arm to put a 7-inch blade in the middle of his back.
Gray also designed the set, light and sound. The opening scene provides a complete definition of who is Byron Meade. The man has an arsenal of weaponry that would make real-life killers Leopold and Loeb run for cover and the Marquis de Sade jealous. The walls are heavily decorated with guns: pistols, revolvers, musket, and derringer. Sex toys like handcuffs, whips, and cat o’nine tail. The bar provides the premium of alcohol: Grey Goose vodka, Tanqueray gin and Courvoisier cognac. The man knows how to have a good time of the liquid variety. Gray definitely sets the tone before the grand author steps onstage. It’s crazy-mad genius.
If you miss the first episode, you are SOL. Take a look in the complicated world of Byron Meade and his cohorts as they try to survive.
The Lake Project plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. until Sunday February 16th, at the Hudson Guild Theatre, located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., in Hollywood. For ticket information call (323) 960-7776 or reserve online