BWW Review: LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD'S HOME FOR UNWED MOTHERS - Both the Title and the Play Itself Need To Be Halved

LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD'S HOME FOR UNWED MOTHERS/by Louisa Hill/directed by Tony Abatemarco/Skylight Theatre/thru May 14, 2017

The first act of the Skylight Theatre Company's world premiere of LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD'S HOME FOR UNWED MOTHERS presents a riveting, fast-paced, well-acted tale of Dee, a teenage girl experiencing the joys of young love and the pains and consequences of unexpected pregnancy. Corryn Cummins totally owns her role of Dee, effortlessly exhibiting Dee's very wide range of teenage emotions - from girlish romanticism to maturing sexual attraction; from realistic labor pains to soul-baring cries of emptiness. Brava, Corryn Cummins!

Cummins receives solid support from Adrian Gonzalez who charmingly plays Billy, Dee's first boyfriend from grade school. Gonzalez and Cummins show very cute and sweet chemistry as these young, sexually inexperienced lovers. Gonzales also limns Eddie, the hip, suave new kid in town who takes a liking to Dee. In Eddie and Dee's meet-cute and eventual seduction scenes, Gonzalez and Cummins flirt up a storm leading to a very sexy ear-blowing encounter. Gonzales also takes on the role of Dee's loving, but uptight dad. With simple shifts in body language and minimal costume tweaks (addition or elimination of suspenders, eyeglasses, hat, tee-shirt, sport jacket), Gonzales instantly conveys his distinctly different character portrayals. Very nice!

Another talented multi-roled performer, Amy Harmon makes her own definitive marks as Dee's stern mother (the wearer of the pants in that household), a 12-year-old fellow girl in trouble, Dee's religious counselor, a nurse, a teacher, and more.

Director Tony Abatemarco expertly keeps his actors and the action moving at such a smooth and steady pace, 70 minutes of Louisa Hill's smart and witty dialogue (i.e., Dee's biting 'fruit' presentation given in front of her high school class) somehow passed by in a flash.

When the first act ended, I commented to my 'plus one,' "This play could end here and I would be sooo satisfied!"

And then, Act 2 begins. The focus of this section centers on the now grown-up Corie, the daughter Dee gave up to unforeseen adoption. With anger the predominant emotion emphasized, and the numerous blaming-of-others diatribes Hill wrote for this trainwreck of a individual; Corie (completely and effectively personified by Michaela Slezak) presents a main character with minimal likeability, eliciting little to no empathy. Cummins' Dee, such a full-ranged emotional being in Act 1, transforms into a sugary, overcompensating, mothering figure to Corie. Though Gonzalez infuses his death metal rocker Henry with such life and vitality; Henry, the character himself, brings no surprises or revelations to the table. Harmon's new multiple characters quite ably move the plot along.

Original musical interludes on cello, written and performed by Marylin Winkle, invaluably complement the moods of the more dramatic scenes. Scenic designer Cindy Lin created a clean, multi-functional set, that with the meticulous lighting of Jeff McLaughlin, requires no set changes.

As self-contained and complete as Act 1 is; it can easily, and should, stand on its own.

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From This Author Gil Kaan