A one-night stand after a drunken encounter at a New Year’s Eve party in Dublin, Ireland, is the starting point for a refreshing take on a casual coupling and pregnancy. The North American premiere of Irish playwright Christian O’Reilly’s “The Good Father” follows the reactions and interaction of a man and woman thrown together by careless sex.
Jan (Michelle LeBlanc) is well educated, well heeled and recovering from rejection by her fiance of eight years. Tim (Kris Joseph) is the initially insensitive product of a dysfunctional family with minimal education and little money, trying to come to terms with being diagnosed as infertile.
She considers an abortion before contacting him with the news of her pregnancy. He is thrilled at the thought of impending fatherhood and undergoes a character transformation from lout to sensitive modern man, indicating he’s more than ready to take on the responsibilities of spouse and family.
Peppered with sharp dialogue and witty one-liners, the script hovers between tragedy and comedy as O’Reilly — who began his career writing screenplays — emphasizes the chasm that divides the pair while tracing the ongoing development of their unlikely relationship.
Because “The Good Father” primarily presents the man’s viewpoint, the focus is on his joy and hope for the future, while the woman is reluctantly swept along by circumstances. This unusual view (the maternal perspective being more commonly explored) gives “The Good Father” its edge, as does O’Reilly’s determination to describe the emotional experience of fatherhood.
Despite the actors’ unfortunate lack of chemistry, performances from LeBlanc and Joseph are strong, the latter making the most of his meatier role.
Careful direction from John P. Kelly and interesting lighting from David Magladry enhance this well-written drama, which looks likely for future productions this side of the Atlantic.