BWW Review: DADA WOOF PAPA HOT at Epic Theatre Company
DADA WOOF PAPA HOT, the 2015 play by Peter Parnell, attempts to grapple with the complications gay couples may face after gaining marriage equality, and whether it's possible to avoid some of the same traps that straight couples also face. Epic Theatre Company's production, directed by Theodore Clement (previously the Artistic Director of Counter-Productions Theatre Company) is well-cast and makes some interesting choices, but is sometimes hampered by the source material itself.
In Dada, Alan (Terry Shea), old enough to have been active in the 1980s gay scene, finds himself struggling in all aspects of his current life. His young daughter prefers her other father, Rob (Kevin Broccoli), while his best friend Michael (Jay Are Adams) is having an extramarital affair, and the younger couple Alan and Rob meet at a gay dads dinner causes unexpected trouble. Alan has the life he and so many other gay people fought for, but does that mean it's the life he desired for himself?
Epic's production does the best it can with the source material, which unfortunately doesn't develop the supporting roles in a significant way. Terry Shea and Kevin Broccoli are well-suited to their roles as the steady older couple, with Shea being a particular highlight in every one of his scenes. Their fast paced conversation with the younger couple, Scott (Nick D'Amico) and Jason (Alvaro Beltran) quickly conveys the affluent New York City lifestyle they are used to, with discussion of fancy preschools, vacations to South Beach and Fire Island and the fact that they're able to meet in one of the most exclusive restaurants in the City. As the play is an autobiographical work by Parnell, all of the couples in Dada fit this profile, therefore only representing a very thin slice of upper class life. Because of this, their problems can feel a bit surface level, excluding many of the very real issues faced by LGBT people dealing with conservative communities and/or economic hardships, to name just a few examples, that aren't a factor here. While some of the other themes, such as infidelity and how parenting can effect a relationship are universal, here we never sense that there's any real consequence if things do not turn out well for the couples involved.
A true highlight of the show is the scenic design by Katie Russell. Upon first glance, the set piece looks very simple, painted as a block of tall city buildings, with a large moon behind it all. As the play begins, and from one scene to the next, this array of blocks and the circular disc are shifted, piled, and turned around to create everything from a restaurant table to a child's bedroom décor to a full bed. The sound design (by Christine Fox and Theodore Clement) is also used well throughout the play, helping set each scene with appropriate ambiance.
Dada Woof Papa Hot runs through June 22nd at Theater 82 located at 82 Rolfe Square in Cranston, Rhode Island. For tickets, go to https://www.artists-exchange.org/events and for more information, e-mail Info@EpicTheatreRI.org.