Tuesday, November 22, 2016

“The Kid Thing” offers impressive San Diego premiere at Moxie.

“Kids say the darndest things.” Art Linkletter.

One might think that playwright Sarah Gubbins play “The Kid Thing” now in an impressive San Diego premiere at Moxie Theatre through Dec. 11th would be, maybe about what kids say, do, act, behave or in general just be kids.

That would be misleading because Gubbins’ play isn’t about any of those topics. There isn’t even a hint of a kid around, no toys, no anything. No! It’s about having kids and what that means; what motherhood would look like to the two lesbian couples in her play, who do and don’t want to have them, kids that is. 

Darcy (JoAnne Glover) and Leigh (Sarah Karpicus) and Margot (Anna Rebek) and Nate (Katherine Harroff) are best friends. Nate and Leigh went to high school together and the couples visit on a regular basis.

This particular night, during a heated discussion over the death of pop idol Michael Jackson and whether or not he should have had children Nate and Margot let the cat out of the bag that Margot is pregnant. The play is set in Chicago, 2009. In 2013 California passed a law that made gay marriage legal. But no matter same sex couples were having kids well before that and no doubt will continue to do so. 

Later on Nate will reveal that an old high school buddy, Jacob (Connor Sullivan) a young man that Leigh and Margot both dated and fooled around with in college is the donor dad. While the two parents to be seem ecstatic over the prospects of having a ‘kid’, Darcy sees skepticism. Leigh jumps in confessing that she too has been thinking along those lines, and of course they too she and Darcy, want children

Gubbins offers up some pretty potent discussions that are not unlike those talked about today; homophobia, donors vs.fertility clinics, gay marriage, and the roles of same sex couples as parents. This is the one of the biggies that later on in the play will bring out some pretty revealing and drastic assessments by Darcy, who internalizes the situation of having children, in dramatically emotional but oft times realistic (to her) terms.

Darcy and Nate are both pretty butch but Darcy takes the prize as she is definitely committed to her look, Brooks brothers suits, cufflinks that come with her shirts (blouses?) and all the fixin’s. Darcy is an Exec in PR for global markets.

She thinks ‘kids are a theoretical topic.’ Her thinking is done in the abstract but when she brings it down to the now, her concerns are real especially when it comes to her very masculine look, how she feels about herself image, what the child would call her and could she have the same intuitive feeling for a child she did not bear as say the birth mother?

Jo Anne Glover against a Chicago skyline (Sarah Mouyal with Chris Renda on lighting)
JoAnne Glover is a standout as the wall of resistance and probably the most realistic thinker of the four. Emotionally, she’s just not there. Making a decision like that is no willy-nilly; let’s just have a kid because my time clock is running out decision. Don’t get me wrong my eight -year old grandson has two Moms’ and it was the best decision for my daughter and her wife. But it didn't happen overnight.

Leigh on the other hand just wants to have a baby and is worried that her time clock is running out. She is a social worker who barely carries her fair share of the financial burden of that household. She is as soft looking and feminine as Darcy is butch and pretty cut and dry in her slim fitting suits.

Jo Anne Glover and Sarah Karpicus
Sarah Karpicus’ Leigh is the epitome of feminism. She’s curvy, likeable and a bit more down to earth, in her own way than her partner, Darcy. Theirs looks, from the outside, to be the less stable relationship of the two couples involved.

Nate works for Best Buy and in her simplicity she offers a sincere look at her partner with love and admiration and a sense of awe that she chose Nate as her partner. Margot, who is by far heads and shoulders above her in intellect as a college professor, is also the more feminine of the two and she too carries the financial burden of the family.

Katie Harroff's Nate is as home grown as apple pie and just as animated in her desire for children. Her tone and easy going innocence make her just the right partner for Margot and one can see why Margot would be as committed to it as she possibly can.

Anna Rebek and Katie Harrnoff
And that brings us up to the play itself. Gubbins work has as many twists and turns, ups and downs as the Mission Bay Coaster especially when she inserts the fact that Darcy and Margot are having an affair. The topics, all related, are worthwhile discussing and defending but too much might be overload. Having kids is not a singular issue. The play does go off in different directions giving us too much to think about all at once.

The playwright has a good feel for the characters and director Kym Pappas maintains a tight reign on her cast keeping the dialogue crisp and flowing. The ensemble overall is excellent and no one can fault excellent the dynamics that encompasses all the players bringing home a full- throated discussion at plays end.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Connor Sullivan as, lets just say, the middle- man here. Sullivan seen in “4000 Miles”, “Jesus Hates Me” and “The Car Plays” just to mention a few, is a rising star and lends a good deal of  comfort and ease to his all female counterparts.

Anna Rebek, Katie Harrnoff, Connor Sullivan, Sarah Karpicus and Jo Anne Glover
Without his sperm, Margot and Nate would still be looking for a donor. On the other hand, Darcy is not at all on board with Jacob. Sullivan’s portrayal of the man seeking a peaceful solution for? is not her ideal donor for her would be offspring. He’s somewhat of a lost soul, but not without an honest desire to please both women. It’s simplistic but works here.

Sarah Mouyal designed the multi purpose set that works well on Moxie’s long stage. Jennifer Brawn Gittings costumes are time and character appropriate. Chris Renda’s lighting and Matt Lescault-Wood designed the lighting and sound that gives way to the period.

Kids may say the darndest things, but there is a reality that sets in, gay or straight, that these little creatures need to have both parents on the same course feeling comfortable in their own skins so that this little person feels safe and loved. That said studies have shown both sides of the coin, pro and con. In this political climate you can bet your ‘sweet bippy’ that this already issue, will come to the fore again.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Dec. 11th
Organization: Moxie Theatre
Phone: 858-598-7620
Production Type: Comedy/Drama
Where: 6663 El Cajon Blvd. Suite N. San Diego CA. 92115
Ticket Prices: Start @ $20.00
Web: moxietheatre.com

Photo: Jose Galvan

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