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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The return of the provocative ‘Parallel Lives’

Melody Deatherage, left, and Kathie Doyle-Lipe co-star in Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy’s “Parallel Lives,” starting Friday at Spokane Civic Theatre.  (Chris Wooley)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

No one needs to explain to Melody Deatherage and Kathie Doyle-Lipe how much heavy lifting is required to pull off “Parallel Lives.”

The Spokane Civic Theatre veterans, who are the only actors in the production, are well aware that they will portray a myriad of characters since they starred in “Parallel Lives” six years ago at Coeur d’Alene’s Lake City Playhouse.

“It’s certainly a challenge,” Deatherage said. “You have to switch mental and emotional gears. You don’t want the characters to come across as caricatures.”

“Parallel Lives,” which opens Friday at Civic and runs through Feb. 26, is a humorous play written by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy, which premiered off-Broadway in 1986.

The Obie Award-winning production is comprised of a series of vignettes, which are comedic spoofs. Deatherage and Doyle-Lipe play 36 male and female characters, each exploring the struggles of modern life.

There’s Hank and Karen Sue, a pair of middle-aged bar flies from the Deep South. Madeline and Sylvia are two elderly New Yorkers who are enlightened by a Women’s Studies class. There are the Supreme Beings, who plan the fate of the sexes at the beginning of the world.

“Parallel Lives” is playful yet provocative and deep and unpredictable.

“It’s got a lot of humor and some of it is really biting,” Doyle-Lipe said. “You get the spectrum of the human experience with ‘Parallel Lives.’ ”

The play has a considerable amount of content for two actors to digest.

“We break it down in chunks,” Deatherage said.

Even though Deatherage and Doyle-Lipe acted out the material in Coeur d’Alene, they focus on “Parallel Lives” as if it’s new to them.

“We have to refamiliarize ourselves with the material,” Deatherage said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve done this, but we’re thrilled to do it again.”

And how do Deatherage and Doyal-Lipe hope it goes the second time around?

“We hope to do it better,” Doyle-Lipe said.

Deatherage and Doyle-Lipe have each been with the Civic for 40 years and have been in more than 200 shows.

“The Civic is special,” Deatherage said. “Kathie and I love it or we wouldn’t still be doing this. We get to do amazing shows like ‘Parallel Lives.’

“We don’t take this for granted.”