I almost didn’t make it to Dallas Comedy House for opening night of A Brief, Endless Love, the latest work by award-winning playwright, Matt Lyle. The Texas sky had opened, dumping several inches of summer rain across the city, but I decided to buck up and venture out anyway.
During my 15-minute commute, I saw at least four accidents, even more emergency vehicles en route to other accidents, and—inexplicably—a man standing on the side of the street dressed only in a zipped-up, hip-length raincoat and wellies while holding an umbrella. That is to say, the man was not wearing any pants. I wondered if this was an omen; thought maybe this was a sign for the oddities of things to come, concerned that this would be the highlight of the night. But, I am pleased to report that it was not. In fact, the night only got better from there—much better.
A Brief, Endless Love fires on all cylinders. Its touching real-life perspective creates poetry in comedy, and leaves you laughing until you cry.
“I grew up basically an only child. It was just me and my dad,” said writer Matt Lyle, who also wrote Hello, Human Female and The Boxer to much acclaim. “I’m married now, and I have a child, and life is full of love, but nothing can pull at me like the search for love. I’ve always looked at everything I’ve written from that very real human place.”
That essence of humanity is embodied in his ensemble cast of seasoned performers, most of whom Matt has known and worked with for years—he’s even married to one of them. Steph Garrett, Kim Lyle, Jeff Swearingen, and Jeremy Whiteker bring to life the joy found in every dark corner and depict the loneliness found in each scene with a lightness of life that makes them instantly endearing.
From the mad scientist answering an ad on Match.com to parents questioning their preteen’s professions of love by describing—in very real terms—what goes into real love to the Stanley Sisters, which features Dot (my favorite character of the bunch, artfully portrayed by Steph Garrett), I could not imagine better players in these role or better performances by these players. And that’s for good cause. While a cast typically writes its own sketch shows, Matt Lyle already had much of the material for A Brief, Endless Love and then cast and honed that material to the strengths of the performers. What results is a cohesive, hilarious ensemble that will keep you on the edge of your seat and laughing from your belly.
Fortunately for us, belly laughs will not be in short supply. Matt Lyle likes to write—a lot. Writing is his creative outlet, which juxtaposes nicely against his IT job at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. He imbues his characters with such refined and unexpected comedic relief that it inspires performers and writers alike to embrace their own humanity and push themselves farther. With luck, we’ll have many more opportunities to see his take on the human condition.
“Always start with the most recognizable, true-to-life thing and go from there,” he said.
And fortunately for us, that is something Matt Lyle is damn good at it.
A Brief, Endless Love runs at the Dallas Comedy House every Friday & Saturday night at 9 p.m. now through June 24. You should go—like me—come hell or high water.
Shashana Pearson-Hormillosa is a current student at DCH. She spends her days wrangling children, avoiding housework, and hustling for acting or writing gigs. One day she’ll make her life easier by changing her name to Shashana O’Shanahan.
(Top image: Matt Lyle. Middle image: Shashana Pearson-Hormillosa)