Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Call ***

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
There is much to admire in Tanya Barfield's new play at Playwrights Horizons. The characters are vividly drawn and excellently realized by a fine cast, the dialog is lively and convincingly authentic, and the premise is promising. Annie (Kerry Butler) and Peter (Kelly AuCoin) are a white couple who, after a long battle against infertility that has left Annie depressed, decide to adopt an African baby. Their best friends, a black lesbian couple Rebecca (Eisa Davis) and Drea (Crystal A. Davidson), have mixed feelings about their decision. Peter had been a close friend of Rebecca's older brother, who died after a trip he and Peter made to Africa. The circumstances of his death are a topic usually avoided, but that come out late in the play. Peter and Annie have a new neighbor from Africa, Alemu (Russell G. Jones), whose perpetual smile masks survivor guilt. When they get a picture of the girl they are planning to adopt, they think she looks considerably older than her alleged age, which sets off new doubts in Annie. Unfortunately, the play spins its wheels a bit in act two and the various strands do not blend very successfully. Nevertheless, it is a worthy effort that I was glad to see. Rachel Hauck's set and Emily Rebholz's costumes are effectively understated. Leigh Silverman's direction is assured. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes including intermission. Note: It's merciful that there is an intermission, because the semi-upholstered seats in the Peter J. Sharp Theater become very uncomfortable after a while. And why would anyone build a theater in this day and age without staggering the seats?

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