BWW Reviews: SPAGHETTI CODE- An Edgy And Interesting Conception
SPAGHETTI CODE is a dark comedy written with pure, unapologetic honesty by Houston playwright Abby Koenig. It's about a couple, Millie and Tim, who have been struggling with infertility for years. When they are at the end of their financial rope, Milly proposes that Tim and her best friend Stacy should try to conceive. That's right, she wants her husband and her best friend to have sex in the desperate hope that she can get a baby out of their, um, union. The story unfolds in a wonderfully organic way. This is a play with many layers and rich, believable characters. Koenig has a gift for creating characters that you feel you've known for a long time. They say blunt, even distasteful things, but you love it because you were thinking the same thing anyway. SPAGHETTI CODE is a humor-packed show with plenty of wry quips and razor-sharp lines that work well to lighten the heaviness of the topic.
Drake Simpson plays Tim, the likable and irreverent husband who will do anything to make his wife happy. Simpson is truly great in the role, with his scruffy, off-beat charm and ironic sensitivity. He is extremely fun to watch as he's the type of actor who lives the part clear down to his toe nails. The infertile and desperate Millie is played by Ivy Castle, who gives a seeringly honest and vulnerable portrayal. The emotional arc of this character is challenging but Castle handles the vast range of emotions with believable and moving compexity. She is especially affective in the party scene, when she is grappling with complicated feelings about the result of her choices. Mischa Hutchings plays Stacy, the best friend and infamous party girl. It would be easy to stereotype Stacy, except that she is willing to do something as selfless as carry a baby for her best friend. Hutchings has a wonderfully natural quality on stage, and she is endearing and entertaining in her performance. Millie's endocrinologist (and old flame) is aptly played by Andrew Love. The contrast between his studious, cerebral quality and the more emotive characters works nicely.
Director Jacey Little's staging is very fresh and effective. One of the most powerful parts of the show is the party scene, which is staged inclusively so that the audience feels they are actually at the party. Emotions run high and complicated and the pacing and energy of this scene is deliciously absorbing.
I have to admit, I was a little disgruntled by the abrupt ending. I really, really wanted to find out what happens to everyone, which is testament to the fact that I was pulled in by the story. Some people enjoy conjecture, deciding for themselves how things work out. I like to see it with my own eyes.
The story raises many moral and social questions about agency and accountability of both men and women. How far do you go to get a baby? Is it ever okay to sacrifice your dignity for someone you love? The Horse Head Theatre Company aims to stimulate Houston audiences with thought-provoking and fresh artists. This intelligent and engaging play ensures that audiences will be talking about it long after the curtain call.
Photo Credit: Adam Baker