×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Off Broadway Review: ‘Log Cabin’ Starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jordan Harrison's rom-com addresses a touchy post-liberation topic among gay couples: parenthood.

With:
Phillip James Brannon, Cindy Cheung, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ian Harvie, Talene Monahon, Dolly Wells.

Just when you thought it was safe to go to the theater again without suffering through plays about straight couples caught up in parenting issues of interest to no one but themselves, along come liberated gay couples to rehash the old dilemmas in playwright Jordan Harrison’s “Log Cabin,” now playing at Off Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons.

Do we want a baby? Yes? No? Boy? Girl? What shall we name it? Will it ruin our social life? Our sex life? Will we even be decent parents? Will the kid grow up to be as screwed up as we are? And if we do take the plunge, whose sperm should we use? Whose womb? “It’s the thing to ask gay people now,” someone observes about the protocol of bringing up the subject of baby, “after ‘Are you getting married?’”

As a committed couple, Ezra (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, playing neurotic-in-a-nice-way) and Chris (Phillip James Brannon, strong, confident, a survivor) have stability going for them, anyway. And Harrison (“Marjorie Prime,” “Orange is the New Black”) writes the kind of dialogue that doesn’t overly insult his characters’ intelligence, or ours. But for anyone other than gay couples who might be mulling over the same decision, parenthood is a narrow topic that here leads to nothing bigger or grander than its own slender self.

Ezra and Chris are drawn into the current gay preoccupation with having children when their lesbian friends, Jules (played with wit by Dolly Wells) and Pam (Cindy Cheung, an elegant presence), decide to get pregnant. Once the sperm issue is resolved, Pam gives birth to a little guy who is played by a grown man with facial hair (Ian Harvie, playing up the butch factor) and an extensive vocabulary. This is fun — until it wears thin.

The original element that Harrison brings to his play is a man with a womb. As a trans man who took the hormones but didn’t have surgery, Henry (Harvie again) has the equipment to have his own child if he wanted to. This also makes him a person of interest to friends who would like to have a kid but either don’t have wombs of their own or don’t care to use them.

There’s potential drama — and comedy — in this situation, if Harrison had the heart for it. Unfortunately, he’d rather just talk about it. There comes a point, roughly midway through the play, when the principals are so talked out on the subject that two of them go against character by having a quickie in the nursery while the others head up to the roof for no good reason except to set up the quickie.

Conversation, of which there is much, is clever enough, but mostly shallow. Which makes Jules’s observation about gay parenting jump into your lap for being so smart and to the point: “They couldn’t get married, and then they could.  Their families wouldn’t accept them and then they would. They didn’t have any money and then they did. There had to be something else to want. So, a baby.”

Jules, the resident thinker in this crowd, also has the best comment on the touchy subject of Henry’s gender fluidity. “That’s the whole thing with the trans movement,” she says wryly. “We’re all fully interested in navigating this brave new world with them, but it sometimes seems like they want us to get it wrong.”

Well, Harrison has taken it upon himself to explain it all, at length and ad nauseam.

Off Broadway Review: 'Log Cabin' Starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Playwrights Horizons; 198 seats; $99 top. Opened June 25, 2018. Reviewed June 20. Running time: ONE HOUR, 30 MIN.

Production: A Playwrights Horizons production of a play in one act by Jordan Harrison.

Creative: Directed by Pam MacKinnon. Sets, Allen Moyer; costumes, Jessica Pabst; lighting, Russell H. Champs; sound, Leah Gelpe; production stage manager, Amanda Spooner.

Cast: Phillip James Brannon, Cindy Cheung, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ian Harvie, Talene Monahon, Dolly Wells.

More Legit

  • By the Way Meet Vera Stark

    Off Broadway Review: 'By the Way, Meet Vera Stark' by Lynn Nottage

    After writing two harrowing Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, “Sweat” and “Ruined,” Lynn Nottage is entitled to have a little fun. But while this revival of her new play, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” walks and talks like a screwball comedy, it has a real brain in its head. Before we get too serious, let’s meet [...]

  • Merrily We Roll AlongRoundabout Theatre CompanyMERRILY

    Off Broadway Review: 'Merrily We Roll Along'

    Like the optimistic youths at the end — or is it the beginning? — of “Merrily We Roll Along,” creatives keep going back to this problematic Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical, re-imagining the show in the hope that the end results will be different this time around. They’re not. But disappointments are often off-set by new [...]

  • My Fair Lady Laura Benanti

    Listen: Laura Benanti on 'My Fair Lady' and the Secret to Her Melania Trump Impersonation

    Laura Benanti is now playing her dream role on Broadway. At the same time, the Tony winner (“Gypsy”) is also playing her toughest part ever. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “It’s the most demanding part I think I’ll probably play,” said Benanti, now appearing as Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center Theater’s well-received revival of [...]

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content