Presented by Brown Box Theatre Project
Written by Patrick Gabridge
Directed by Kyler Taustin
Boston, MA: Nov 6-8 & 13-15, 2015
290 Congress St
Ocean City, MD: November 20-23, 2015
Center for the Arts
502 94th Street
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Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) Lab Rats is an adorable comedy about the drastic measures people will take to convince others of their relative normalcy. Some days it’s impossible to hold all the crazy in. Let she who hasn’t committed some social faux pas (like wailing like a blubbering infant on public transport) cast the first stone! For Mika and Jake, “some days” tend to be most days thanks to a barrage of paid-to-evaluate tests they take in order to make ends meet.
Whether it’s an underpants dance to Taylor Swift, or a lab test requiring the subject to choose between shooting President Obama or a kitten in the face with a nerf gun, this play takes on the wacky as well as the depressing elements of human lab testing within the murky waters of dating. Mika (Brenna Fitzgerald) and Jake (Marc Pierre) meet in the waiting room of a test while Mika is tweaking on an unspecified drug. Through the power of charitable action, they become friends, more than friends and then equals on the uneven playing field of love
Playwright Patrick Gabridge keeps his scenarios purposefully generic so all focus is kept on the relationship between Mika and Jake. They are revealed through their reactions to trial drugs and unspecified tests: Fitzgerald is a very funny, poor but entitled baker seeking a bakery. Pierre is the bashful yet charismatic game engineer. They make an excellent, attracting team by adding just the right amount of emotional insecurity to their unbridled drive for financial security.
Of note to actors, directors and producers: Lab Rats has some textually rich dialogue and monologues that could be used outside of Brown Box’s production. The characters of “Mika” and “Jake” are generic enough that almost any race could play either character (should the playwright allow). Props and dressing are simple enough to be portable. This is a play with great possibility and reach.
When all’s said and done, Lab Rats is a show about redemption (and the power of prescribed drugs to enable you to be the person you are). Despite the cliched plot twist and romantic ending, we’re reminded that sometimes people do bad things. Mika and Jake aren’t necessarily good people. They aren’t bad people either. They are merely people. People who make bad choices because they are flawed. Flaws don’t make a person less deserving of love. Because love is a thing you need, not that you earn.