“Lies, Anger and Forgiveness”

“Lies, Anger and Forgiveness” at Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest 2022.
“Lies, Anger and Forgiveness” at Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest 2022.

A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Lies, Anger and Forgiveness,” written and performed by Barbara Saba, and directed by Debra De Liso at Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest 2022.

Barbara Saba is an actress with history. She is a trained vocalist who performs internationally with a new album recently release. Also, she’s a writer and a dancer.  So. more than a triple threat. A quadruple threat. But. “Lies, Anger and Forgiveness” interestingly has really very little to do with her career.

“Lies, Anger and Forgiveness” begins simply enough, with an explanation of her move from the beautiful and transcendent Rome to Los Angeles, not so beautiful and more transitional than transcendent.  She left as a  means of escape, or adventure, a chance to work as a film actress in a city devoted to it.  But that is as far as this plays focus on fame gets, thankfully.  Ms Saba may have thought that’s why she was here, she may have told everyone she left behind that too, but nothing is ever as easy as we sometimes tell ourselves, is it? Leaving her life, her family and all her past behind her, at a time in a life when many people might be settling into the familiar, rather than leaping into the void, Saba finds herself at a crossroads in more ways than one. 

Debra De Lisa at Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest 2022.
“Lies, Anger and Forgiveness” at Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest 2022.

All this self reflection comes about at the office of a hypnotherapist. Ms Saba, we discover, is the daughter of a tobacconist and an avid smoker.  But L.A. is not Italy, and smoking is a tough habit to maintain when you literally have nowhere whatsoever to do it legally. She is also concerned for her health and needs to stop. Here is where the story really begins. Ms Saba recreates her encounter with this rather odd and comically judgemental therapist, who is also an Italian transplant.  He’s utterly terrifying, in a passive aggressive ,wildly operatic and insanely accurate kind of way. 

This maniacal genie takes Saba and us on quite the journey through her life.  Her childhood, her relationship with her depressive mother and abusive father, her fierce compulsion to become neither one of them, constantly wrestling with her deep deep love for them both.  Families are complicated. I know mine is. Parents are especially so.  As children we often cannot understand why they are even together, everything seems so black and white, so dark and light, so bitter and sweet. 

“Lies, Anger and Forgiveness” is a parade of self realisations. A nuanced revelatory performance deeply wrought. 

Ms Saba is effortlessly funny and engaging. Her every gesture meaningful, transcendent and moving. She carefully and subtly choreographs her story, unfolding onstage like her beloved jasmine flowers before us, lifting every veil, exposing her fears, her pain and her truth. 

Ms Saba beautifully illustrates the one specific gear around which we all turn, forgiveness. 

She laments, ”Have I got old without growing up. Was I my own oppressor?” Are well as, “I got nothing left and my hands are empty. My hands are empty… so maybe I can use them now, I can grow up now.”  We watch her transform. From pain and regret and hardness to openers, love and forgiveness. The pandemic made us all look within. Face ourselves, deal with what we see in our mirrors unable to leave our homes we cannot overfill our lives submerging who we really are. 

I confess, I watched this show multiple times.  I needed to watch Ms Saba discover herself again. I wanted to witness that revelation perhaps to wonder at my own.  The best of art is only a reflection of what makes s all human. What connects us, good and bad. A familiar refrain, a knowing nod, a road we have all travelled.  

“Lies, Anger and Forgiveness” is an absolutely, vividly, wonderfully real 30 or so minutes of truth. Barbara is a revelation, a gifted actor with a poignant and important story to tell. 

I hope you get a chance to see this brilliant solo performance, perhaps at the Fringe again this year? I’m not sure, I can only hope!

In the mean time you can find out more here: