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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 27, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 04
No insight in stale Cradle and All
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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No insight in stale Cradle and All

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Cradle and All
Theater Schmeater
Through February 18


Babies apparently break populations into two parts: those who love them and those who can't stand 'em. Who knew? It's the new political divide.

So suggests the latest production at Theater Schmeater, a two-hander called Cradle and All, written by a New York Jew, Daniel Goldfarb. Like many productions here in very-few-Jews-land, it's hard to hear the rhythms in the production, though they are somewhat apparent in the script. However, this particular play, as much as it wants to shed some light on parenting, is full of mostly stale, stereotypical parenting issues.

Act One has Claire and Luke (Alyson Bedford and Matthew Middleton) as a childless couple of five years. Claire is now in the clock-is-almost-done-ticking stage and rues the decision she made never to have children. She longs to be like the couple next door with the crying baby, shops online for baby supplies she has no need for, and is finally ready to confront her lover to renegotiate the parameters of their relationship.

Act Two swaps condos and we met Annie and Nate (Bedford and Middleton again), the couple with the crying baby, who are desperate for some sleep. The baby is now 11 months old and has never slept through the night. The couple has not learned - despite the books they've read - how to get the baby girl to manage being awake at night without crying. We spend an interminable night with them as they get coached to leave the baby alone to cry herself to sleep.

There are aspects of the play that are amusing. Bedford, especially in the first act, is adorable, flirty, and fun. There is a special gleam in her eye. Middleton plays a tad too stuffy in the first act, though his character calls for a lot of stuffiness, and is a caring and warm harassed father in the second. The second act seems like it could be the funnier one, but that fine line of playing the reality of exhaustion and a lack of communication cuts to the more serious side, instead.

The first-act relationship fight puts us on Luke's side when he rightly accuses Claire of changing the rules on him and because of that making him sound selfish. Claire's wishful thinking, that once Luke sees his own child he'll be glad he's a parent, is really what is selfish. And the act ends without letting us know how the relationship will resolve.

The second act actually pushes up against the line of child endangerment, since once Nate and Annie actually check on their screaming child, they find (offstage) that she's thrown up all over herself in her distress and they flirt with leaving her to sleep in her vomit, as per instruction from the incompetent internet-connected 'coach.' That Goldfarb decided this was funny suggests that he's not a parent.

For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or call 206-324-5801.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.

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