ROBIN’S SHOW REVIEW: Cradle and All


Manhattan Theatre Club’s new show Cradle And All seeks to answer the age old question “TO BREED OR NOT TO BREED?”

Annie and Nate have a baby who won’t sleep. Claire and Luke are losing sleep over the decision to get married and start a family. In adjacent Brooklyn Heights apartments, playwright Daniel Goldfarb’s (Sarah, Sarah; Modern Orthodox) newest look at love, sex, commitment and parenthood unfolds.

Tony nominee Maria Dizzia (In the Next Room) and Greg Keller (Uncle Vanya) star as both couples in this world premiere production, directed by Tony nominee Sam Buntrock (Sunday in the Park with George).

Dizzia and Keller have a good chemistry and are very appealing in their respective roles.  Dizzia brought to mind a bit of actress Mary Louise Parker who I have long admired on stage and television.

The format of the show is clever. Act I features Dizzia as 40 something “cougar” aspiring mom Claire with a high consciousness of embarking on her fourth decade of life yearning for more. She admits to her 34 year old live-in love, Luke, of five years, that back in her 20s, she had an abortion when she opted for a film part over parenthood with her old boyfriend Raul.  Since then, her career as an actress has not taken off as she  hoped, and she longs anxiously for a child. Luke, taken aback by this confession, does some sharing, including wanting to make it on his own professionally.  Clearly they are not on the same page, and you’re left not quite sure what transpires with them as a couple.

During the course of Act I, Nate (a neighbor in their building) with an 11 month old crying child Olivia, knocks on their door to borrow an egg.  In Act II, we meet Nate, an actor whose career is less than stellar at the moment, and his wife Annie, a stay at home mom, who are caught up in the challenging throes of parenting, missing how things used to be. They spend a long, torturous evening (Nate’s attempt at stress relief is baking his famous chocolate chunk cookies, using the borrowed egg), as they are guided on the computer by an expert hired to teach them to enable their screeching daughter to sleep on her own.  Each experiences their share of frustration, and sex becomes an ultimate topic of discussion, as they attempt to rekindle their pre-parenthood passion.

Each Act features an actor whose career is not what it could be, and the line “I will be really hurt and upset if you walk away right now,” establishing the parallel between the couples. Act II was the more entertaining of the two, offering both wit and insight.

There are no great relevations in the tales, but you will relate, whether you are contemplating parenthood or adjusting to it.  And, it makes for a validating girls night out with moms of  young children who will appreciate the break from their parenting routine and no doubt recognize the sentiments and humor captured with dead on candor by Goldfarb. 

DISCOUNT TICKET OFFER
Where: City Center, 131 W 55th Street, betweeh 6th and 7th Avenues, NYC

To get discounted $60 tix:
Visit NYCITYCENTER.ORG and use code 7554 or call CityTix at 212-581-1212 and use code CRA

When:  The show runs through June 19th.  Tues at 7 pm, Wed-Sat at 8 pm, Wed, Sat and Sun at 2 pm