Procreation

The farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary mores.

With:
Hope - Melissa Denton Michael - Michael Halpin Gavin - Kody Batchelor Ruby - Danielle Kennedy

“Procreation” is stillborn. Justin Tanner’s 20th play is reputedly his most autobiographical, though it would be presumptuous to ascribe the work’s frantic misanthropy and pervasive self-pity to a lack of authorial distance. Whatever the explanation, the farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary mores.

Designer Gary Guidinger’s gloriously messy Southern California living room, a triumph of grim housekeeping, hosts a reunion of the least well-adjusted family since the Sopranos. Four grown siblings, accompanied by spouses and hangers-on, troop in one by one to display their eccentricities (partial list: closeted homosexuality, drugs, bed-wetting, deadly garlic breath) and await the freak show’s next attraction.

Having assigned them quirks, Tanner neglects to attend to their purpose. With nothing to do but complain, these trolls merely occupy space in a curdled modern-day “You Can’t Take It With You” that’s devoid of urgency to keep us involved in how it’ll all work out. Plot developments are set up and just as quickly abandoned, as when precocious adolescent Gavin (Kody Batchelor) eavesdrops on everyone’s horny secrets with the promise of 11th-hour fireworks, except the fuse never gets lit.

Things pick up with the arrival of the birthday girl, superannuated matriarch Ruby (Danielle Kennedy, dolled up in skintight jeans and the giant blond ‘do Lesley Gore used to wear on “Bandstand”). But the announcement that she and young husband Perry (Jonathan Palmer) are going to have a late-life litter of eight — take that, Octomom — causes consternation and calls for a mass abortion, rather than mirth.

Helner David Schweizer works tirelessly to keep the 13 thesps’ wheels in motion, but they’re spinning in place. If the likes of Kennedy, Palmer, Brendan Broms and Chloe Taylor come off best, it’s because they manage to find strong actions to play amid the general lassitude.

Procreation

Odyssey Theater, Los Angeles; 99 seats; $30 top

Production: An Odyssey Theater Ensemble presentation, with Linda Toliver and Gary Guidinger, of a play in one act by Justin Tanner. Directed by David Schweizer.

Creative: Sets and lighting, Guidinger; sound, Kristian Hoffman; stage manager, Brande Crockett. Opened July 16, 2010. Reviewed July 18. Runs through Aug. 15. Running time: 1 HOUR, 20 MIN.

Cast: Hope - Melissa Denton Michael - Michael Halpin Gavin - Kody Batchelor Ruby - Danielle KennedyWith: Brendan Broms, Cody Chappel, Andy Marshall Daley, Tom Fitzpatrick, Gary Holland, Jonathan Palmer, Patricia Scanlon, Danny Schmitz, Chloe Taylor.

More Legit

  • The Twilight Zone review

    London Theater Review: 'The Twilight Zone'

    “Procreation” is stillborn. Justin Tanner’s 20th play is reputedly his most autobiographical, though it would be presumptuous to ascribe the work’s frantic misanthropy and pervasive self-pity to a lack of authorial distance. Whatever the explanation, the farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary […]

  • HadestownNew York Theatre WorkshopBy Anaïs MitchellDeveloped

    Streaming to Broadway: How New Titles, Talent Grow Buzz Online

    “Procreation” is stillborn. Justin Tanner’s 20th play is reputedly his most autobiographical, though it would be presumptuous to ascribe the work’s frantic misanthropy and pervasive self-pity to a lack of authorial distance. Whatever the explanation, the farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary […]

  • Chrissy Metz

    Chrissy Metz to Star in Neil LaBute's 'Fat Pig' at Geffen Playhouse

    “Procreation” is stillborn. Justin Tanner’s 20th play is reputedly his most autobiographical, though it would be presumptuous to ascribe the work’s frantic misanthropy and pervasive self-pity to a lack of authorial distance. Whatever the explanation, the farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary […]

  • 'Death Becomes Her' Musical in Development

    'Death Becomes Her' Musical in Development for Kristin Chenoweth

    “Procreation” is stillborn. Justin Tanner’s 20th play is reputedly his most autobiographical, though it would be presumptuous to ascribe the work’s frantic misanthropy and pervasive self-pity to a lack of authorial distance. Whatever the explanation, the farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary […]

  • Stagecraft podcast John Leguizamo

    Stagecraft Podcast: John Leguizamo Says He's a 'True Ghetto Nerd'

    “Procreation” is stillborn. Justin Tanner’s 20th play is reputedly his most autobiographical, though it would be presumptuous to ascribe the work’s frantic misanthropy and pervasive self-pity to a lack of authorial distance. Whatever the explanation, the farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary […]

  • The Go-Go's

    Go-Go's Musical 'Head Over Heels,' Produced by Gwyneth Paltrow, Targets Broadway for 2018-19

    “Procreation” is stillborn. Justin Tanner’s 20th play is reputedly his most autobiographical, though it would be presumptuous to ascribe the work’s frantic misanthropy and pervasive self-pity to a lack of authorial distance. Whatever the explanation, the farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary […]

  • Farinelli and the King Broadway

    Broadway Box Office: 'Farinelli and the King' Makes Royal Debut

    “Procreation” is stillborn. Justin Tanner’s 20th play is reputedly his most autobiographical, though it would be presumptuous to ascribe the work’s frantic misanthropy and pervasive self-pity to a lack of authorial distance. Whatever the explanation, the farce at the Odyssey remains inert and painfully unfunny, a rare misstep for our wickedest local savager of contemporary […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content