Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
AIRDATE: JANUARY 15, 2010
Women and girls get pregnant all the time. Piece of cake, right? Not if you’re really trying and it isn’t working. Miranda and Nick are nearing 40. The clock is ticking, but the baby thing just isn’t happening. So they’re thrown headlong into the maelstrom of infertility madness – specialists, support groups, drugs, weird sexual times and positions. This goes on for months, racks up $50,000 in debt and takes a heavy toll on their formerly rock-solid marriage.
That’s the setup and premise for Lisa Loomer’s 1998 comic romp-with-slightly-darker overtones. Though the situation gets serious, the play never really does. After the first act of serial disappointments, the second act devolves into the next harrowing, frustrating step along the path to parenthood: adoption. There are as many stresses and distresses in this route, as we see in repeated, if humorous, detail. I won’t tell you how things wind up, but this is a comedy, after all.
The play feels a little slight, though there’s plenty of room for character and caricature development. A terrific cast of six morphs into dozens of zanies, from wacko but well-meaning professionals to highway robbers in the babymaking business, to eternally advising relatives and friends.
The conceit is that Miranda is telling this whole sad saga directly to us, her audience, whoever we’re supposed to be. Sometimes her husband takes over. Sometimes they bicker about the details. It’s cute and clever and it does open one’s eyes to an unsavory and challenging row for increasing numbers of couples to hoe: those who wait too long or change their minds or just aren’t biologically or physiologically up to the task. There will be lots of people for whom, no matter how much fun the cast is, this just isn’t a topic they’re deeply interested in.
Still, the Moxie Theatre production makes it a heckuva good time. Jo Anne Glover and Stephen Elton , a real-life offstage couple, have a great connection as the frazzled and bedeviled duo. Miranda, a somber greeting card writer, is the pessimist in the family, who sees potential disaster lurking in just getting out of bed. Nick is a sculptor who sees the beauty and positive potential in everything. But these crazy machinations even get him down. The rest of the cast is superb with all their quick-change roles, from the Noo Yawk Italians to the upscale alcoholics, the New Age helpers to the freaky, nose-ringed preggo who may or may not want to give her baby away. They’re all hilarious, and they really make the time fly by. It’s a delightful production. And yet, you might say that the play is pregnant with possibilities, though it doesn’t fully deliver.
“Expecting Isabel” runs through February 7 at The Rolando Theatre near SDSU.
©2010 PAT LAUNER