Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Love Child


By Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton. Dir. Carl Forsman. Primary Stages at 59E59. (CLOSED)

Critics marvelled at the versatility of actor/writers Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton, whose two-man show depicts a troubled Off-Off-Broadway production of Euripides' obscure Ion, though a few quibbled with the script's ambitions.

Associated Press A+
(Jennifer Farrar) One of the funniest plays-about-a-play that you will see involves two men literally spinning from one character into the next...The duo deftly portray about 10 characters apiece with no costume changes, many of them near-simultaneously, while also vocally providing the sound effects...Despite an increasingly hectic pace, both actors display an endless supply of comedic flair while keeping multiple personas separate.

The New York Times A
(Neil Genzlinger) Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton have been in some high-profile, high-priced shows on Broadway, but it’s hard to imagine that they have ever had more fun than they’re having now in Love Child, a delicious $15-a-ticket romp of their own making...Seemingly every accent, gesture and facial tic in the actors’ respective kit bags is called into service to tell the story...[It] would be all just very skilled gimmickry if not for the story, which is a well-turned yarn in its own right.

Variety A
(Mark Blankenship) Jenkins and Stanton, both veteran character actors, stoke the imagination with their remarkable physical and vocal precision. And their perfs have the same deranged wit as their writing...Credit director Carl Forsman, a.d. of Keen Company, for capturing the emotional nuance of the writing. While the thesps jump from character to character, the helmer keeps the pace frantic in the funniest bits and injects stillness just when we're supposed to pay attention.

The New Yorker A
(Unsigned) Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton, both successful Broadway actors, expertly play at least twelve characters between them in this bare-bones but hilarious farce...Once onstage, the family of over-the-top thespians can’t separate their own stories from the script, and astounding truths emerge.

TheaterMania B
(Dan Balcazo) Several of the characters initially come across as near-caricatures. But while some remain underdeveloped, the major ones...become more nuanced as the show continues and you find out more of their back story...Both actors have superb comic timing and an easy rapport with one another...On the downside, there are so many characters introduced in such a short span of time that it's difficult to keep track of them all...There are also some jokes that fail to land...Still, the affection that Jenkins and Stanton pour into their creations is infectious.

Curtain Up B+
(Elyse Sommer) [It] isn't serious competition to the likes of Boeing, Boeing but Love Child is also a farce. However, it relies on the escalating zaniness and the speedy and, at times almost simultaneous, back and forth jumps among some twenty character to substitute for a conventional farce's slamming doors. For all its barest of bare bones structure and the emphasis on lots of laughs, the play also insists on donning a serio-comic double mask, and the result is poignant but also something of a mixed bag.

Talkin' Broadway B+
(Matthew Murray) It gives Jenkins and Stanton ideal opportunities for showcasing their serious comic acting chops. The writing of this breezy 90-minute outing...is less sure, but most of the time you'll be laughing too much to care...It doesn't take long after the start of the performance-within-the-performance for both Love Childs to lapse into utter ridiculousness...While events are supposed to rise to a certain Hellenistic level of improbability, the revelations leave you constantly wondering "What's next?"...They're much more successful at evoking love and affection for the greater theatrical family.

Talk Entertainment C-
(Oscar E Moore) I am still reeling at the memory of two fine, dexterous, energetic actors - Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton - playing a variety of roles - twisting and twirling and turning as directed by Carl Forsman, becoming this one and then that one and then this one again or is it that one - in the blink of an eye - while taking turns sitting on one of the six mismatched chairs...Love Child might have been better off tackling Much Ado About Nothing or putting itself up for adoption.

AP A+ 14; NY Times A 13; Variety A 13; New Yorker A 13; Talkin' Broadway B+ 11; Curtain Up B+ 11; TheaterMania B 10; Talk Entertainment C- 6; TOTAL: 91 / 8 = 11.38 (B+)

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