×

The Kid Thing

Two lesbian couples contemplate parenthood in this play, which smartly mixes debate and drama, argument and psychological revelation.

With:
Darcy - Kelli Simpkins
Leigh - Park Krausen
Nate - Halena Kays
Margot - Rebekah Ward-Hays
Jacob - Steve O'Connell

Two lesbian couples contemplate parenthood in Sarah Gubbins’ “The Kid Thing,” a play that smartly mixes debate and drama, argument and psychological revelation. One moment, the friends are talking rationally about the benefits of being transparent to a child about a sperm donor dad, and the next they are barely hanging on to civility as a character’s carefully subdued fears and desires rush to the surface.

The opening scene catalyzes the drama in a manner not unlike Donald Margulies “Dinner With Friends,” as, at the end of a meal, lesbian couple Nate (Halena Kays) and Margot (Rebekah Ward-Hays) reveal to their good friends Leigh (Park Krausen) and Darcy (Kelli Simpkins) the fact that Margot is pregnant. Leigh, best pals with Nate for many years, is thrilled; Darcy is just plain shocked, her quickly established verbosity, often tinged with judgmental condescension, turned instantly to speechlessness.

For the impulsive Leigh, the event makes her immediately want to pursue having a child; for the butch, conservative Darcy, the discovery forces her to deal with layers of issues, from her concerns of both financial and emotional readiness to unspoken doubts about her relationship to, ultimately, more deep-seated psychological questions about her own self-worth.

While maintaining a solid grip on the play’s fundamental realism, Gubbins does allow the work to bounce around a bit in tone. The first act moves along solidly but traditionally, with revelations of an affair among the foursome and with Leigh moving forward with planning for a child, even determining that she should share the same sperm donor as Nate and Margot.

The second act begins with more comic sequences, introducing the willing sperm donor Jacob (an excellent Steve O’Connell), who must navigate very different agendas from Leigh and Darcy. In these very strong segments the pace is brisker, the scenes leavened with overt plotting and dramatic irony.

The climactic sequence brings all the characters together for what promises to be the outing of some secrets, but ends up going further, turning into a scene of emotional cruelty that, since “August: Osage County,” seems to have become a specialty of Chicago playwrights.

Director Joanie Schultz manages the tonal shifts effectively, and deserves extra praise for staging transitions that elegantly propel both story and character.

There are a couple of potentially problematic elements in “The Kid Thing.” First, Gubbins surprisingly portrays a blatant butch/femme split in both couples, but, while Nate and Darcy’s masculinity becomes a subject, the stereotypical quality of the relationships goes undiscussed in a play that discusses a lot.

More concerning from a craft perspective, the character Darcy perhaps dominates the play too much — she is without question the most complex of the women, and most everything is driven by her reaction to events. Kelly Simpkins (one of the original performers in “The Laramie Project”) puts forth a raw, intense performance of a character whose motivations seem to peel away as the play goes forward, but who remains unlikable pretty much from start to finish.

The emotional impact of her actions may be limited by the lack of the same dimensionality in other characters, but Darcy’s psychological complexes are provocative enough, her motivations ambiguous enough, and Simpkins’ performance strong enough, to make “The Kid Thing” a work of significant depth.

The Kid Thing

Chicago Dramatists, Chicago; 77 seats; $32

Production: A Chicago Dramatists and About Face Theater presentation of a play in two acts by Sarah Gubbins. Directed by Joanie Schultz.

Creative: Set, Chelsea M. Warren; costumes, Izumi Inaba; lighting, Sarah Hughey; sound, Miles Polaski; stage manager, Jenniffer J. Thusing. Opened, reviewed Sept. 10, 2011. Runs through Oct. 16. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN.

Cast: Darcy - Kelli Simpkins
Leigh - Park Krausen
Nate - Halena Kays
Margot - Rebekah Ward-Hays
Jacob - Steve O'Connell

More Legit

  • Moulin Rouge Broadway

    Listen: The Special Sauce in Broadway's 'Moulin Rouge!'

    There are songs in the new Broadway version of “Moulin Rouge!” that weren’t in Baz Luhrmann’s hit movie — but you probably know them anyway. They’re popular tunes by superstars like Beyoncé, Adele and Rihanna, released after the 2001 movie came out, and they’ll probably unleash a flood of memories and associations in every audience [...]

  • Greta Gerwig and Oscar Isaac

    Greta Gerwig and Oscar Isaac to Star in Anton Chekhov's 'Three Sisters' Adaptation

    Greta Gerwig and Oscar Isaac are taking on an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” for New York Theatre Workshop in Manhattan. The company announced on Tuesday that they will feature two final performances to round out the 2019 to 2020 season, including the Chekhov play. “Three Sisters” will be directed by Tony award-winning Sam [...]

  • montreal just for laughs Comedy Festival

    Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival Is the 'Coachella of Comedy'

    Every summer, Montreal becomes the epicenter of the comedy world as the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival takes over the Canadian city. Now in its 37th year, the mindboggling scale of the festival is there in the numbers: more than 1,600 artists from across the globe (speaking English, French and other languages) performing 250 shows [...]

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Broadway

    Broadway Back In Biz After Power Outage Ends

    The bright lights of Broadway were back on Sunday morning as midtown Manhattan recovered from a power outage that lasted nearly seven hours in some areas. Social media was full of examples of how New Yorkers rose to the occasion after the power went out on a hot Saturday night shortly before 7 p.m. ET. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content