The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse will open its 2019 season of live theater with a series of solo shows throughout the month of May. Kicking off the lineup will be a comedy written and performed by actress and writer Lynne Adams. The show titled, “Two-Faced,” has a long and storied production history dating back to the 1990s, when it was performed at theaters around the country, and enjoyed a yearlong run in Los Angeles. “Two-Faced” won the LA Weekly Award for best solo performance, and Adams was honored with the Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award for her performance.
The play deals with a middle-aged woman’s coming to terms with major life changes, and society’s perceptions of the aging woman. The show earned praise from a number of media outlets during its original run. A reviewer for the Park LaBrea News wrote, “This is a fascinating exploration of a woman’s illusions and delusions, marriage and divorce, sexuality and duality, motherhood and sisterhood, feminism and dynamism. It’s witty, wise, revealing, insightful, painful, and totally engrossing. You couldn’t spend a better evening in the theater.”
The story follows a woman who has given up her career to raise a family, only to find herself abandoned by her husband in middle age for a younger woman. “She’s let herself go,” explains Adams. “Her daughter wants to be a cosmetologist, and she decides that her mother needs a makeover. The first scene is me standing before a full-length mirror applying makeup, lifts, a girdle, etc.”
Adams, a former soap opera actress who appeared on “The Guiding Light” for several years, and acted in many movies and TV shows, explains that although the show is not strictly autobiographical, she was inspired by her own experiences.
“When I first stopped doing soaps and stopped dying my hair from white, I was shocked by how differently people treated me,” she says. “Most people don’t get that experience of so suddenly being one thing or another. When I was acting or going on auditions, I’d put on a wig and makeup and people just treated me so differently. It really was shocking. I was ignored in my frumpy white–hair look. The minute I would put on my wig, the change was so obvious — not just the way men reacted, but waiters, salespeople, everyone.”
Adams has been acting professionally since she was 7 years old. Her father operated several theater companies, and she and her sister, actress Brooke Adams, took part in many productions from childhood on. Both went on to successful acting careers. “We’ve been in this business forever,” says Adams. “There never really was another option.”
When “Two-Faced” was first produced, Brooke directed the show. Eventually, Lynne wrote a film script based in part on the material in the play. The resulting 2002 movie, “Made-Up,” starred Brooke, Lynne, and Brooke’s husband Tony Shalhoub.
The Adams sisters have since collaborated on a web series called “All Downhill From Here,” filmed entirely on the Vineyard. The sisters live next door to each other in Chilmark.
Lynne has written and produced a number of other plays. With the exception of one other solo show, all are comedies. The actress/writer/producer has a talent for looking at life through a humorous lens. Still, as a dedicated environmentalist and activist, she very often, as in the case of “Two-Faced,” has an important story to tell.
The show may be almost 30 years old, but the issues, presented with humor and wit, are still very relevant today. During its initial run in Los Angeles, a reviewer for Daily Variety called “Two-Faced” “an engrossing, in-your-face female perspective on growing older amid society’s misguided expectations. Richly written and skillfully brought to life, this production does not berate society for its wrongs. Instead, it gives males insight (and even some identification), and allows females to chuckle and nod in agreement.”
“Two-Faced,” written and performed by Lynne Adams, Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, at 7:30 pm at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, 24 Church St., Vineyard Haven. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at mvplayhouse.org.