So, honestly, you should not even bother to read this review. Just pick up the phone and make a reservation for Love Child. Better yet, make two. Go see this fabulous show, then swan across the hall and take in Avenue Q. I’m serious about this.
Love Child is so much more than I expected. Two actors, Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton play a whole bunch of different characters gathered together for the opening of a show waaaaaaaaaay Off Broadway. For those of you who have ever been in a show, anywhere for any reason, this will be a welcome back to that weird intimacy of a theatre family. For those of you who think of actors as existing only when they step foot on a stage, it will be a revelation.
Joel, an actor-manager, has decided to present Ion by Euripides, the story of a young man who was abandoned at birth because he was born of a human (Creusa) and Apollo. Apollo didn’t want the baby to be public knowledge, but did arrange for Ion to be taken at the shrine of Apollo at Delphi, unbeknownst to Creusa. Boiled down, it is the story of someone searching for identity. Although we never see the play performed, everyone involved is doing just that.
Joel’s mother is his agent, his girlfriend is in the show, and his life is up for grabs. People in the audience are making too much noise, actors in the dressing room are threatening mutiny, and we have a window seat to the whole shebang.
As performed by Jenkins and Stanton every character arrives in full blossom. We need no introduction or preparation because these people are on the fly. Moments are tossed at us like hot potatoes: two women in the ladies room, two lovers quarreling, a diva being talked down to earth, etc. Stanton and Jenkins move so quickly they nearly leave a trail of holograms in their wake. A major part of this magic ingredient was the choice to choreograph the action. Tracey Bersley has turned this two-person play into a pas de deux. It is a masterful choice. A turn here, a spin there, a character is shed and replaced.
The end result is that Ion is not the only person looking for a family. We all are. Everyone in theatre creates a new family with every show they do. When we leave the safety of our homes to go to the theatre, aren’t we looking for like minds who will expand our circle of intimates? Isn’t that why we listen to music, read a book, visit a museum or choose a piece of art for our home? We use art as a conduit to the family we create and recreate for our entire lives. Yes?
You will leave the theatre towing this entire cast of characters with you, because they have picked you as much as you have picked them. Love Child is a Love Child with an extended family that keeps on keeping on long after the curtain call. Two actors make magic using only their imagination and ours, reminding us once again how deep grow the roots of true connection to each other.
NEIL GENZLINGER for NEW YORK TIMES says, "A delicious romp"
ADAM R. PERLMAN for BACK STAGE says, "Does so many things right, just doesn’t make me laugh."