A “play date” refers to an arranged appointment for children to get together to play, while their parents may or not engage with each other.
But in “Play Date,” John Morogiello’s comedy soon to open at Best Medicine Rep Theater Company, the term has a new twist.
In the play by Morogiello, also the theater’s artistic director, the kids at play aren’t seen. Their mothers and fathers, however, are very much present, revealing past and present affairs and insecurities about parenting.
They’re afraid of losing their individuality in the role of parents and of social expectations that are hard to fulfill.
Morogiello wrote the play while he was a stay-at-home parent.
The concept of “Play Date” is that only two actors – one male and one female – portray three parents each.
In his Best Medicine Rep debut, Evan Crump said he loves the “madcap farce” of the play, which has characters who tend to be more three-dimensional than those usually found in these kinds of comedies.
“There are moments that hit you in the gut, nostalgic moments,” he said.
Crump isn’t new to multiple roles as was one of the clowns in the Hitchcock film-inspired “The 39 Steps,” performing as 15 to 20 different people.
But here, each character is more fully fleshed out: Blaine, the polite man who believes himself the ideal husband and father, but is really “clueless”; Trent, a stay-at-home dad who uses the arrangement for extramarital meetings; and Rowan – Crump’s “personal favorite” – a stodgy and repressed professor with “real heart underneath”
“A lot of lust triangles develop over the course of the play date,” the actor said.
Melissa B. Robinson, who is staging “Play Date,” has performed in and directed readings of Morogiello’s works. She also appeared in “Engaging Shaw,” a full-length Best Medicine Rep production.
“I always look at scripts carefully, because, as I tell actors, you can’t beat the material, even if act your heart out, if it isn’t good. But I thought this play was absolutely hilarious,” said Robinson. “The parents are destroying each other’s lives, and relationships are crisscrossed.”
Robinson said she loved the idea of two actors playing three parts, though that requires “distinct ways to do each one, especially within the play’s fast pace and rapid-fire monologues. We can’t worry too much about elaborate changes.”
It isn’t easy, agreed Kira Burri, who plays the female roles.
“I’ve played multiple characters before, but these are three whole characters…I’ve been working to get the characters down.”
Sometimes, Burri said, “you’re walking out the door as one character and coming back as another, and looking forward to the third. It’s quite a challenge.”
The roles are so meaty, said Burri, who plays Missy, the wife of an attorney and stay-at-home mom trying desperately to find a balance in her life; Carol, a more laid-back “hippy” mother with a bunch of kids who tear up the place; and Deb, the “perfect” mother and wife, a sorority girl. Or is she?
For those who think children should be seen but not heard, this play reverses the motto.
“We don’t see the kids, but we hear the kids,” said Robinson. “Or, to be exact, we hear a tape recording of children at an actual play date, thanks to Stan Levin, (the) sound designer.”
This is a production-heavy show, said Robinson, which is 90 minutes long, without intermission.
“Play Date” runs April 4-May 5. Best Medicine Rep’s performance space is on the second floor of the Lakeforest Mall, 701 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg. The easiest access is via the Green Flower entrance. 636-299-2635. www.bestmedicinerep.org.
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