Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing

Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing

Amanda Peet may be best known as an actress, having appeared in films such as "The Whole Nine Yards" and "Syriana" and in TV shows, including the Duplass brothers' family dramedy, "Togetherness." But she's also a serious writer, with her second play, OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH, now making its world premiere at The Geffen Playhouse. Peet says that for the Geffen production, with a cast that includes Mamie Gummer, Abigail Dylan Harrison, Caroline Heffernan, Tyee Tilghman and Joe Tippett, she was most interested in examining the mother-daughter relationship and "the idea of how to parent and to what degree you can keep your narcissism in check."

Peet's script, directed by Tyne Rafaeli, examines the relationship between 10-year-old tennis phenom Carlin McCullough (Abigail Dylan Harrison), her overbearing mother Cyn (Mamie Gummer), Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing and Jay, the young coach (Joe Tippett) who has devoted himself to the girl's success. As the action moves from tennis court to the McCullough's kitchen, decisions are made on the potential tennis wonder kid's future, with her mother and coach determining the best route to lead her to fame and fortune, while Carlin just wants to keep the two people who believe so strongly in her abilities, even more so than she does, happy.

Things seem to be going along great, until Cyn's job is threatened due to the amount of time spent Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing travelling to tennis tournaments with her daughter takes its toll. So how can she possibly support her budding star daughter in the style to which they both would like to become accustomed? And if she cannot let her daughter just travel with her coach so she can stay home and work, just how long will Jay be willing to continue coaching without a paycheck? "Just give me her Grand Slam check," he laughs, with great intent on making that dream happen.

Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing Act 2 begins seven years later, with the teenage Carlin (Caroline Heffernan) in one of the many motel rooms in which the three stay while on the road for tournaments. But unfortunately, Carlin is injured running springs on concrete and is laying down icing her ankle word reaches them that Salif (Tyee Tilghman), a scout from a second-rate university, wants to meet with Carlin about the possibility of a tennis scholarship. Initially everyone seems to be filled with excitement!

But when Jay, who has only returned to coaching Carlin for the past two months, Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing asks Cyn to leave him with Carlin to take the meeting on their own, Cyn's inability to take a back seat to anyone else promoting her daughter's abilities soon causes a rift between mother and daughter from which they may never recover. It is in this scene that Gummer's talent takes center stage as she slowly and so expertly builds and finally boils over emotionally as the reality that her daughter is finally able to make

The two actresses portraying Carlin make it easy to believe we are really seeing the same girl as a playful kid Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing who grows into a young woman finally able to speak up for what she really wants in her own life. But what happens when the 17-year old decides what she really wants is her coach and not to pursue a tennis career? Thanks to Peet's expert character development and Rafaeli's inherent understanding of how a hormonal teen might choose to pursue her first crush on a man she believes really loves her for who she is, this coming-of-age tale ends in a positive, not shocking, way.

Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing Technical credits soar thanks to the flowing and ever-changing scenic design by Tim Mackabee on which Rafaeli beautifully incorporates character exits as set pieces move into place, everyday and tennis-themed costumes designed by Elizabeth Caitlin Ward, lighting design by Lap Chi Chu, with original music and sound design by Lindsay Jones who will have you really believing tennis balls are being whacked from side to side on the court set.

The world premiere of OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUCH by Amanda Peet continues through July 29, 2018 nightly (except Mondays) Review: OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH Looks at Whose Dream a Parent Should be Pursuing with weekend matinees at The Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., L.A. 90024. Tickets: $60-$85, available in person at the Geffen Box Office, by calling (310) 208-2028 or online at geffenplayhouse.org. Rush tickets for each day's performance are made available to the general public 30 minutes before showtime at the box office at $35 General / $10 Student. The run features the Geffen's popular Talk Back Tuesdays, giving theater lovers a chance to engage in a deeper conversation about the play and the process.

Photo credit: Chris Whitaker



Cast Announced for ETTA & ELLA ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE at REDCAT Photo
One of the American theater's seminal writers, Adrienne Kennedy captures the Black experience in America in the 20th century with a trademark embrace of symbolism, lyricism, and mythic figures. In this world premiere production, Etta and Ella Harrison are talented academics on the Upper West Side – as well as sisters and rivals.

Jiaoying Summers and Hollywood Improv to Present
STAND WITH ASIANS Benefit This Month Photo
Because laughter and comedy can unite us all in the face of tragedy, comedy star Jiaoying Summers is hosting an evening event at iconic Hollywood Improv to raise funds for “Stand with Asians.” The proceeds, channeled through the Stand with Asians Community Fund will benefit the victims of gun violence including the most recent heartbreaking massacres in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park during Lunar New Year. 

HEAVENLY COUNTRY to Open in March at Two Roads Theatre Photo
Two Roads Theatre will present Heavenly Country, the world premiere engagement of a jukebox musical written by Joel Russell. Directed by L. Flint Esquerra, music directed by Paul Cady, and produced by Russell Media, the production will run March 24- April 22, 2023. Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

LOS ANGELES WOMENS THEATRE FESTIVAL to Open at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in March Photo
The longest-running Annual Solo Festival for women in Los Angeles, LAWTF will take place March 23- March 26 at Barnsdall Art Park Gallery Theatre.


From This Author - Shari Barrett

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in secondary sc... (read more about this author)


Interview: Peter Noone Talks Touring with Herman's HermitsInterview: Peter Noone Talks Touring with Herman's Hermits
January 25, 2023

Herman's Hermits featuring lead singer Peter Noone formed in Manchester in 1964 and then took the world by storm during the Beatles-inspired British Invasion era. The group's success continues internationally, with the group touring to entertain not only fans from the 1960s but their children and grandchildren as well. So when I heard Herman's Hermits was set to appear at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on January 27, I decided to speak with Peter about the group's beginning and how life on the road has kept the band going for so many years.

Interview: Deborah Robin on Portraying Doris Day in DAY AFTER DAYInterview: Deborah Robin on Portraying Doris Day in DAY AFTER DAY
January 18, 2023

The DAY AFTER DAY musical shares the dramatic personal life story of Doris Day through her music, including many of her hit songs: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, Sentimental Journey, Secret Love, It’s Magic, A Guy is a Guy, and Que Sera Sera. Since her popularity turned Doris Day into America’s Sweetheart in the days before the ever-present internet and cell phones, were you ever as curious as I was as to who the real Doris Day was after the cameras stopped rolling? And what does it take to bring such a beloved and well-known icon to the stage? I decided to speak with Deborah Robin about her devotion to the star and the role to find out.

Interview: Writer/Performer Anzu Lawson on the L.A. Debut of her Solo Show THE RUBInterview: Writer/Performer Anzu Lawson on the L.A. Debut of her Solo Show THE RUB
January 17, 2023

Anzu Lawson is gearing up to debut her second one-woman show, The Rub, inspired by her 30-minute single camera comedy pilot about her life as a stand-up comic who secretly pays her bills by being every Asian mother's worst nightmare... a masseuse. I first met Anzu when she was performing as Yoko Ono during the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival, a role she inhabits with her entire body, heart and soul. So it makes perfect sense that The Rub debuts on Yoko Ono’s 90th birthday on Saturday, February 18 at 8pm as part of Whitefire Theatre's Solofest 2023. Here's my interview with her about the show.

Interview: Playwright Lester Probst on VOLUN-TEARS, A World Premiere Play About Sexual Harassment in the MilitaryInterview: Playwright Lester Probst on VOLUN-TEARS, A World Premiere Play About Sexual Harassment in the Military
December 10, 2022

ArtsUP! LA is presenting the world premiere of Volun-Tears, a powerful play by Korean War Veteran Lester Probst, based on the true experiences of women who have suffered sexual harassment and sexual abuse while serving in the United States Armed Forces, performed by U.S. Veterans. I decided to speak with Lester Probst on what inspired him to write the play and what message he hopes to instill in audience members to start the road to achieving equality within the ranks of our military, especially for women.

Interview: Cirque du Soleil's Stefan Haves, Creator and Director of SHAMBLESInterview: Cirque du Soleil's Stefan Haves, Creator and Director of SHAMBLES
December 7, 2022

The Actors' Gang is excited to present their family friendly holiday show, Shambles, an unbridled concoction of seasonal charm and sassy cunning all rolled up in a cirque-infused panto, blurring the lines between audience and performers. When I read that this immersive experience will drop theater goers into a 60's NASA holiday party complete with alien abductions, ugly Christmas sweaters, and free-flowing champagne offered as theatergoers meander through curated rooms of wonder, I knew I had to speak with the production's creator and director, Cirque du Soleil's Stefan Haves about his vision to bring such fun family fare to the stage.