BWW Reviews: THE BABY DANCE Challenges Beliefs on Poverty, Adoption, Religion, and Disparity Between Classes
LA based director and filmmaker, David Johann Kim is guiding the current production of Jane Anderson's THE BABY DANCE at the Lounge Theatre 2 through April 7. In his view, "the play is more relevant to more of us today than it was when it was first produced 22 years ago. How many of us over 30 have not met, known or experienced someone, or many, who passionately want a child but haven't been able to conceive? Sometimes it feels like an epidemic."
Kim adds that recent economic challenges also make the piece particularly relevant. "After surviving the economy," he explained, "how many of us don't have a clearer idea of the desperation that the working poor live with every day? The uphill battle continues. THE BABY DANCE is a clever, incisive and often funny collision of all of these important needs facing families."
THE BABY DANCE centers on two couples: Rachel and Richard Lieberman, a successful Los Angeles couple who have everything but can't have children, and Wanda and Al, a poor, pregnant Louisiana couple who already have four kids but can barely support them.
After reading an ad in their local paper, Wanda (Rebecca Sigl) convinces Al (Shawn Parsons) that letting Rachel (Lisa Clifton) and Richard (David Fraioli) adopt their unborn daughter is the solution to their financial problems. As each couple uses the other for their own purposes, both couples' desperate choices lead to an insightful, poignant drama that challenges the audience's views on poverty, adoption, religion, and the disparity between the classes.
Clifton lets us see Rachel's desperate need for a child, even down to demanding Wanda stop drinking tap water and coffee and pushing Al to install the air conditioner for which she has already paid. But of course the money was used for other "needs." Rather than treating Wanda as her equal, Rachel treats her as a child even though Sigl's Wanda has four healthy children and knows a thing or two about birthing babies. The scenes between the two women take you to the core of the nature vs. nurture debate. Parsons shows us all the bravado Al possesses, especially with his unsuccessful attempt to seduce Rachel as soon as Wanda leaves the room.
As the birth approaches, we meet the Liebermans' lawyer Ron (Jeremy Lowe) who attempts to soothe both Richard and Al who come to blows over Al's monetary demands. Lowe and Fraioli banter easily as if they have been friends for years. It made me wonder how this lawyer could steer a couple he knows so well into this poorly matched adoption. Then I remembered - it's all about the money.
Kudos to set designer Arturo Betanzos for bringing a claustrophobic Louisiana trailer park hovel and then a crisp, clean hospital room to life on the small stage.
THE BABY DANCE by Jane Anderson now onstage through April 7 at the Lounge Theatre 2, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. (corner of Santa Monica and El Centro) LA, CA 90038 on Fridays & Saturdays 8:00 pm, Sundays 7:00 pm
$20 available in advance on-line at: www.thebabydance.eventbrite.com
$25 at door
Shawn Parsons, Rebecca Sigl, and Lisa Clifton star in THE BABY DANCE.
Lisa Clifton and David Fraioli are the Liebermans, a successful LA couple desperate for a baby.
Shawn Parsons and Rebecca Sigl are Al and Wanda, a desperately poor Louisiana couple looking for a way out of their financial problems