Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Other Desert Cities

Other Desert Cities
Photo: Scott Suchman

Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities, Arena Stage’s season-ending production, focuses on the fictional Wyeth family. A family with an all too familiar Hollywood story.

Patriarch Lyman (Larry Bryggman) is a golden-era actor who followed in the footsteps of his friend Ronald Reagan and went into politics. Under the Reagan administration Lyman was appointed U.S. Ambassador and later became GOP chair. Matriarch Polly (Helen Carey) earned her fame writing TV shows and books with her sister Silda (Martha Hackett). Their kids Brooke (Emily Donahoe) and Trip (Scott Drummond) did pretty well too: Brooke is an acclaimed author and Trip is a successful reality television producer. A successful Hollywood couple with successful Hollywood children.

But also like celebrity families, they had their share of tragedies alongside their accomplishments. Silda was an alcoholic and Brooke was deeply depressed. The eldest Wyeth child Henry committed suicide after running away from his family and was implicated in a bombing that killed a war veteran. The Wyeth family story sounds all too familiar in American celebrity culture: great success intertwined with scandal and tragedy.

Baitz’s gripping drama takes us beyond the tabloid type and paparazzi photos and shows us conflict more real and raw than anything you’d see on those reality shows on E! or VH1.

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