It's a delightfully twisty idea: a semi-fictional story about a man whose pursuit of truth led him to invent an imaginary character.
Throw in a little bondage and a three-way love story, and you have Lasso of Truth, Marin Theatre Company's perceptive and proudly kinky premiere of Carson Kreitzer's unforgettable new play. Directed with astonishing dexterity by Jasson Minadakis, Lasso is a kind of speculative origin story, offering a partially fabricated glimpse into the life of inventor William Marston, whose professional achievements included the invention of the lie detector and the creation of the first comic book superheroine, Wonder Woman.
"Let me now praise the beauty of strong women!" exults Marston, called the Inventor (an excellent Nicholas Rose). A psychologist with a taste for sexual danger, he's happily married to the Wife (Jessa Brie Moreno, absolutely sensational here). The textbook description of a strong woman, she is the chief breadwinner of the family. Most importantly, she also indulges her husband's tastes for playful bondage games, an extension of his professional interest in domination and submission.
The real Marston apparently did have a longtime polyamorous marriage that included his research assistant, here called the Amazon (Liz Sklar, sexy and electric). The play explores the idea that the women in the relationship might have had as much attraction to each other as Marston had for them, a realization that hits him hard when he discovers them engaging in their own bondage games—without him.
Of course, by this time, crushed that his lie detector hadn't transformed the world into the better place he imagined, Marston had already fused the best elements of his lovers into his one unforgettable comic character.
The play would have had plenty of chewy material right there, but playwright Kreitzer throws in the Girl (Lauren English), a contemporary woman on a quest for the original Wonder Woman comic book, and the Guy (John Riedlinger), a collector who won't part with it. Kreitzer uses these characters to explore the impact Wonder Woman has had on generations of girls who grew up idolizing her, and the feminist significance of the lasso-cracking Amazon comes out in these scenes, which start to make Lasso seem a bit stretched and overladen with ideas.
Still, the pleasures of the play far outweigh the faults.
Brilliantly executed, Lasso of Truth is as bold and original, as entertaining and groundbreaking, as the truth-telling Amazon who inspired it.
Rating (out of 5): ★ ★ ★ ★ ½