BWW Review: Strong Actors Raise A KID LIKE JAKE
The IAMA Theatre Company's west coast premiere of playwright Daniel Pearle's A KID LIKE JAKE is very blessed to have the sturdy acting talents of Sharon Lawrence, Tim Peper and Sarah Utterback. This unsettling series of disagreements take a few scenes to clearly communicate the main conflict of this play - how to deal with Jake, a four-year-old boy obsessed with Cinderella and Frozen's Elsa. Jennifer Chambers ably directs the naturalistic, every-day dialogues, explosive arguments and confrontations between Peper and Utterback as Jake's liberal and excepting parents Greg and Alex. Aside from being a stay-at-home mother, Alex stresses over the descriptive essays on Jake she must write and submit with Jake's applications for entry to a short list of gifted schools. As written by Pearle, the audience must ultimately choose either Alex's side or Greg's side in how to raise their child with a possible gender expansive expression. Although they both claim to be on the same open-minded side, this critic picks Greg's side, as Peper makes Greg the most sympathetic, logical, supportive person you'd ever want in your corner. Utterback's very passionate Alex, in the volatile quarrels of the second half, gets down and very nasty in her uncalled for, very cruel remarks hurled both in Greg's face and at her friend Judy, a school admissions counselor (a solid Lawrence nicely balancing Judy's professionalism with her personal support of the tantrum-throwing Jake).
Olivia Liang, as Nurse, makes an impressive, calming distraction to the troubled discourses of Alex and Greg. And in a dream sequence near the end, Liang (as another character) attempts to bring some closure to Alex in an unfulfilled scene.
All A KID LIKE JAKE's technical elements efficient and spot-on by: scenic designer DeAnne Millais, lighting designer Ginevra Lombardo, composer and sound designer Peter Bayne, and costume designer Melissa Trn.