Logo for 'Pack of Lies'

Pack of Lies

by Hugh Whitemore
Directed by Sarah Merkey

Feb. 13 & 14, 2015 at 8:00pm
Feb. 20 & 21, 2015 at 8:00pm
Feb. 27 & 28, 2015 at 8:00pm
Feb. 22 & Mar. 1, 2015 at 2:00pm

Sean Brinker, Linda Farley, Joyce Leahy, Ellie Levine, Casey Merkey, Molly Watson, Edwin Williams, & Marla Williams

Based on a true story, this play focuses on an average housewife in 1961 Cold War London and how her life of unravels when her best friend is accused of being a spy. Barbara and Bob Jackson are a typical English couple, living in the suburbs with their daughter Julie. They enjoy a friendship with their outgoing Canadian neighbors, Helen and Tom Kroger ‐ until suddenly one day a British intelligence agent arrives and seeks the Jacksons' cooperation in investigating the Krogers, who are suspected of being undercover Soviet agents. Bob and Barbara struggle over how much to cooperate with British intelligence, knowing that their friends could soon be charged with espionage. Barbara, especially, is greatly torn between her duty of friendship vs her duty to Queen and country.

Suitable for ages 13 and up due to themes.

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Director Offers Insights on 'Pack of Lies'

Director Sarah Merkey offers for audiences her insights to the Hugh Whitemore play Pack of Lies in the production’s program notes. Curtain Players stages the drama for eight performances February 13 through March 1. There is a Curtain Panels audience talkback following the Sunday February 22 matinee, an opportunity for conversation about the play among audience, director, cast, and crew.

Here are Merkey’s program notes…

Pack of Lies is a play of moral ambiguity and draws us as the audience to the inevitable question — What would you have done in this situation? As Stewart tells us early on, this story is, "by and large, true." It is based on the spies Morris and Lona Cohen, who did indeed use the names Peter and Helen Kroger while they lived in England in the early 1960's. They pretended to be Canadian, though they were American, hinted when Helen mentions Thanksgiving in one of the first scenes. The Searches (Jacksons) were the unlucky family dragged into the intrigue, by virtue of the fact they lived directly across the street from the Krogers. Gay Search (Julie Jackson in this play) becomes a journalist later in life and tells their story years later, to Hugh Whitemore, who tells the story you will see today.

The story of these spies is as relevant in 2015 as it was in the 1960's Cold War world. Ideals, beliefs, disagreement, tension, and discontent is high between Russia and the US, not to mention the US and other countries. The income inequality found during the Depression, which drove many people to consider Communism as an alternative, is becoming an unhappy reality. And betrayal of one's government is a choice that can be considered noble or treason, depending on your point of view, as we saw with the Edward Snowden case.

All these characters want is to have "normal" lives, in accordance with their own values and beliefs. As friends, they often notice their different values — Peter values privacy; Bob values duty, order, and peace. Helen values connections, intel, and Julie. Barbara values a tidy house, an obedient daughter, and a husband who will take care of her. Barbara and Helen both value their friendship– they know each other, take comfort in each other, take care of each other, but lie to each other. Who betrays the other first? Who lies more? As their friendships start to disintegrate, is it anyone's fault? They each have their own needs, driven by their past, their values, and their vision of the future. Who do you sympathize with? Is anyone wrong? And in the immortal words of Stephen Sondheim: “Nice is different than good.”