Review: TINY FATHER at The Geffen Playhouse

Mike Lew's latest work is 'pleasant' if forgettable.

By: Jun. 22, 2024
Review: TINY FATHER at The Geffen Playhouse
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Mike Lew’s two-hander feels ‘of a time’— and it is impressive how quickly these plays that seem to cater to the art sector’s regrowth post-quarantine both in content and structure already feel stale and  dated. I’ll give this play the flowers it is due: there are moments when it is able to smartly and evocatively explore the ways troublesome power structures can be internalized even with the best of intentions. However, the entire piece is devoid of tension, predictable, and speckled with generically cloying sarcasm in lieu of humor until the final 20 minutes.

A denouement which exerts itself explaining the moral of the story we have watched unfold cheapens the evening before bumbling through the standard closing image of every contemporary play. The characters feel unspecific and representative of simplified ideologies, and thus we have little foothold to climb to a genuine investment in their story and are left looking on at gimmicky attempts to garner sympathy. On the way out of the theatre, I overheard a patron tepidly describing her experience of the evening as ‘pleasant’, and, though generous, I feel it is the warmest praise deserved by the piece.

David Meyer has conjured cinematic realism with his design of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit complete with running water and automated hand sanitizer dispensers. Pablo Santiago’s lighting design counters the sterility of the space with warm washes of saturated color which scour the script for variety and suggest an emotional arch that is otherwise lacking from the production. An unfortunate calling card at the Geffen, esteemed designers are handed impressive budgets and teams with evident technical expertise all to pull off bland, dishwater plays. Meyer’s revolving set is captivating, but audiences would do better to catch Mimi Lien’s in the more-engaging staging of The Comet/ Poppea presented by MOCA and The Industry.

There isn’t much more to be said about tiny father. It seems to check all of the boxes of being a ‘good’ piece of theatre, but in reality it is ultimately forgettable and perhaps not worth the $140 ticket.


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