By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Structurally, Goldberg’s play is calibrated something like a game of billiards, the ball-breaker (so to speak) being Liz, despite Oberle‘s tender, puckish performance. Fifteen minutes into the play, she has smacked against both John and Dean, setting in motion a ricocheting comedy of errors that possesses all the internal geometry of a Feydeau farce (though in slower motion). For Liz must sleep with Dean before she can impose herself into his home, which must occur before she can assess the magnitude of his unhappiness, which has to happen before she can persuade an understandably prickly Mary to sacrifice her child for the sake of other people’s futures.
All of which sets up the baby exchange in Act 2, at which point the dramaturgy changes its rules of engagement. In the attempt to steer the action toward resolution, Goldberg shifts genres, from a social satire resembling Mark Ravenhill‘s Shopping and Fucking to a social drama rather like Jane Anderson’s The Baby Dance. Suddenly, we‘re weighing the ethics of people’s right to bear children, or to rear them, in situations less than ideal. We‘re now just a skip away from the TV-movie, the issue of the month.
Finally, when Liz leads Dean’s clan across John and Nancy‘s threshold, baby in tow, mother Mary starts calling the shots for the first time in the play, creating a surprising new trauma for the brothers and, by extension, the introduction of yet another play, one that bears a striking resemblance to Lyle Kessler’s Orphans.
Still, Goldberg‘s skill with dialogue and irony, and a sextet of sharp, nuanced performances, keep us riveted, as Keller’s dazzling production (abetted by sound designer John Zalewski) punctuates the short scenes with pulsing start-and-stop rock transitions, rather like those in The X-Files.
The play‘s the thing, we’re told, but that‘s not always true. Sometimes it’s the playwright. Goldberg has a long road ahead of her. And that, as Liz would insist, is a good thing.