There is much more to Yeardley Smith than most people realize. Yes, she's best-known for voicing the character of Lisa Simpson, the wise and thoughtful 8-year-old vegetarian saxophonist in the animated series The Simpsons—now the longest running sitcom in U.S. history, Smith tells us proudly. But she's also had a varied career in theatre, film, and television that runs the gamut from never-aired pilots, straight-to-video projects, and the worst Stephen King movie ever (Maximum Overdrive), to acclaimed television series (Dharma & Greg, Dead Like Me), hit features (City Slickers), and Broadway (The Real Thing).
But it was never enough. She was never enough. The craving to have more, to be more, led her into decades of self-destructive behavior that began in earnest in adolescence when a friend taught her how to stay thin by eating, drinking lots of fluids as a necessary lubricant, and then vomiting to get rid of it all. The bulimia stayed with her for 25 years, eventually morphing into an addictive cycle of liposuction.
Along the way, Smith sought help from countless therapists, endured a creepy extortion attempt from her tile man, has been married twice (this one happy), won an Emmy for her portrayal of Lisa Simpson, and wrote this play. Only recently has she realized that the years of overwhelming fear, self-sabotage, and frantic efforts to fix what was damaged inside by changing her outsides was rooted largely in childhood guilt: insecurity over not being enough; daring to dream of fame, success, and having more than she had; and then being audacious enough to go for it.
Director Judith Ivey and Smith's script maintain a fairly light tone throughout the 90-minute intermissionless show. The serious issues are addressed honestly but not heavy-handedly. Smith has a charming, easygoing manner and a self-deprecating sense of humor that help to make uneasy moments bearable. Jeremy Pivnick's glowing lighting design compliments Keith E. Mitchell's simple, candy-colored set, which gives Smith stairs to climb, a wipe-board to put to greatly entertaining use, and plenty of moving-about room. She could hardly ask for more.
"More," presented by and at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Dr., Burbank. Wed.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. Feb. 18-Mar. 6. $30-37.50. (818) 955-8101.