Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

40 Weeks: The Joys of Pregnancy Aint What They Used To Be

40 Weeks, by the InViolet Repertory Theater now premiering at the 4th Street Theater, bills itself as a comedic drama about love, marriage, parenthood and the life you thought you deserved. But the show makes the unfortunate choice to focus on an extremely unpleasant, one might even say hatefully bitter, young lady and the husband she treats with distain bordering on disgust. No one deserves this life.

Jorge Cordova and Megan Hart
Jorge Cordova plays Mark, the beleaguered husband to Angie, played by Megan Hart. These two meet cute in the rain, where Mark picks up the obviously distraught Angie and they go for a drink on the promise that he doesn’t ask her what’s bothering her. Flash forward five years, and Angie, now adding angry to distraught, is married to Mark and she announces over dinner she might be pregnant. She shares the joyous news by throwing a freshly pee’ed upon stick on to the dinner table, just north of the fried rice. She then reacts indignantly when this news isn’t accepted with open arms.

What is missing from 40 weeks, which would be a wonderful screenplay, is the quick montage to music where Mark and Angie laugh, grow and show warmth to each other. We see none of that, nor is it even hinted at. What we see is Mark, five years on, beaten down and performing like a misbehaving child trying to get on mom’s good side. And five years of life with Mark, and an emotionally fulfilling job of being a doctor to low income families, certainly hasn’t turned poor Angie’s frown upside down.

Ronan Babbitt and Michelle David spice up 40 Weeks
picture credits : Michael Mallard
Luckily, things in the secondary plot are much better. Mark’s boss, Scott-the-lawyer is a confirmed bachelor. Scott is played by Ronan Babbitt who reminds one of a very rakish and charming young Hugh Laurie. He falls for Molly, Angie’s old girlfriend and the source of her sourness – Molly dumped Angie way back when and now shows back up in the life after a stint in Africa, doctoring to the impoverished. Scott and Molly date, while at the same time Molly starts a friendship with Angie that moves dangerously close to flirtatious - very quickly falling into old habits.

Michelle David plays Molly with a bravado that makes you root for her. She is the equal to Scott, both playful and sexual. And, although she clearly has feelings for Scott, Ms. David does full credit to her emotional side as Molly falls, once again, for Angie. Molly is a whirlwind of attraction and fun. Kind of a 2011 take on Eve Arden circa 1940’s – a high compliment.

The pace picks up as the show progresses, primarily because the Scott and Molly story moves to the forefront. And their story moves in an interesting and believable way, right up until the very end. It falls apart in what seems like an tacked on wrap up. The unintended moral is that all a lesbian needs is a good man or a baby to put her on the straight and narrow – which can’t be what was intended.

This is the first play by Michael Henry Harris, and he shows some real flare for language and spontaneity.  40 Weeks would work well as a movie, as it is made up of well thought out, nicely written and easily digestible scenes; scenes in which everyone is given a chance to shine. And some quick intercutting would allow another side of Angie to show through.

Director Danton Stone moves the action forward in a simple, uncluttered manner. It allows the actors to drive the piece.

Ultimately 40 Weeks is frustrating because there is definitely a very good show in there somewhere, I just wanted more of it to come out.

40 Weeks
4th Street Theater (tickets)
Director: Danton Stone
Playwright: Michael Henry Harris
Cast: Ronan Babbitt, Jorge Cordova, Michelle David, Megan Hart, Deanna Sidoti

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