Posted in black child, couples, Crystal A. Dickinson, Eisa Davis, Kelly AuCoin, Kerry Butler, lesbian marrieds, parenthood, Tanya Barfield, white parents

Waiting for "The Call"

Kelly AuCoin, as Peter, Kerry Butler as Annie with Eisa Davis as Rebecca and Crystal A. Dickinson as Drea in  Tanya Barfield’s “The Call” at Playwrights Horizons. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Couples desperate to be parents often use hope and sometimes each other in their efforts to conceive.

In Tanya Barfield’s new drama, “The Call,” in a joint Playwrights Horizons and Primary Stages production at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater extended to May 26th, the struggle to adopt just prolongs the agonies of a young married pair.

Annie (Kerry Butler) and Peter (Kelly AuCoin) suffer mightily for the want of a child. One can see the yearning in Peter’s eyes as they assemble a crib in their spare room.

Kerry Butler as Annie, Kelly AuCoin as Peter, Russell G. Jones as Alemu, Crystal A. Dickinson as Drea and Eisa Davis as Rebecca in Tanya Barfield’s “The Call.” Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Over dinner with a couple, Drea (Crystal A. Dickinson) and Rebecca (Eisa Davis) who have just returned from Africa where they got married, share their expectations of a private adoption. When the birth mother backs out, Peter and Annie are unmoored. Peter presses Annie into seeking help from an agency. The fact that the child they hope to parent will come from Africa stirs up concerns from them and their friends and a neighbor.

Kelly AuCoin as Peter with Eisa Davis as Rebecca, Crystal A. Dickinson (standing) as Drea and Kerry Butler as Annie in “The Call.”  Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

“The Call,” directed by Leigh Silverman moves a bit slowly through the first act, but is grippingly transcendent in the second. The actors acquit themselves splendidly, with Russell G. Jones, as Alemu, an odd African neighbor of Peter and Annie’s, adding a poignant humor to the story. Crystal A. Dickinson stands out in the fine ensemble as Drea, the truth-talking girlfriend of Peter and Annie’s old friend Rebecca.

At its heart, “The Call” is a parlor drama, exploring relationships, race and responsibility in a well-written, intelligent play that is also thought-provoking and  likeable.

For more information on the joint production of “The Call,” visit www.PlaywrightsHorizons.org and www.PrimaryStages.org.

Posted in adoption, autistic children, birth, birthing, dating, empty nest, gay parents, motherhood, mothering, parenthood, parenting, single parents, surrogate mother

A Mother’s Joys, A Mother’s Suffering, Parenthood 101

The concept behind “Motherhood Out Loud” is to have a tag team of writers, some playwrigts, some novelists, weave tales of the joy and pain of motherhood.

Created in the spirit of “Love, Loss and What I Wore” or “The Vagina Monologues” but using fourteen authors to voice the show and a permanent cast of four to give embody it, “Motherhood Out Loud”
, in a Primary Stage production at 59E59 Theaters through October 29th, is the brain child of producers Susan Rose and Joan Stein.

The episodes, divided into five “Chapters” each with four scenes, cover the ground from giving birth to finding an empty nest, or as Cheryl L. West puts it in her segment, “Squeeze, Hold, Release.”

(L to R) Mary Bacon, Randy Graff, and Saidah Arrika Ekulona. Photo credit: James Leynse. 

Michele Lowe, the most prolific of the contributors in “Motherhood Out Loud” frames the intros of each selection of scenes with things she calls “Fugues” as in “Fast Births Fugue” or “Graduation Day Fugue.” Ms. Lowe also wrote a couple of skits (“Bridal Shop” and “Queen Esther”) for the show.

.(L to R) Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Mary Bacon and Randy Graff Photo credit: James Leynse. 

The stories like the ones from Marco Pennett (“If We’re Using a Surrogate, How Come I’m the One with Morning Sickness”), David Cale (“Elizabeth”), Leslie Ayzavian (“Threesome”)or Claire LaZebnik (“Michael’s Date”) feel very personal.

Other monologues — for instance by Beth Henley (“Report On Motherhood”)
or Jessica Goldberg (“Stars and Stripes”) feel more imagined.

Some of the material just seems a bit generic, like Brooke Berman’s “Next to the Crib,” for example.

James Lecesne Photo credit: James Leynse. 

Mary Bacon (Actor A), Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Actor B), Randy Graff (Actor C), and James Lecesne (Actor D) willingly work back and forth through the copious bits and pieces that include adoption, senility, in-laws, and parents, sometimes hitting the mark, sometimes misfiring.

Parts of “Motherhood Out Loud” are funny, or moving, or surprising, but it remains a pastiche, and somehow the parts just don’t add up to a whole play.