presented by Fresh Ink Theatre Company
Written by Ginger Lazarus
Directored by Dawn M. Simmons
Dramaturg: Tyler J. Monroe
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston) There are many valid reasons to become a parent. Some “adults” feel that it is their life’s mission to procreate; some couples want to share their love organically; and others accidentally drop a cheeto into their partner’s lap, live in the moment and welcome a baby 9 months later. To each their own. Ginger Lazarus’ nugget of hilarity, The Embryos, offers a surrealist viewpoint on parenting that investigates topical politics as well as the extent of delusion only unconditional love enables. Her characters begin their journey hoping for a larger family. They end it on the wrong sides of the law and the greater Shawarma community.
Mommy (Gillian Mackay-Smith) and Daddy (Terrence P. Haddad) Smith want to have children. They don’t want just any children; they want THEIR children, THEIR way. Mommy and Daddy want their babies to nestle and grow in Mommy’s hostile uterus or they don’t want any babies at all. That is until embryos Leggo (Louise Hamill) and Eggo (Phil Berman) take it upon themselves to escape the confines of their test tube and find their true potential in the great world around them. All Hell breaks loose.
In many ways, the stories of Leggo and Eggo could be a retelling of “Waiting for Godot.” Except for these two blastocysts, Godot is cell division. So much of their short lives are focused on developing their “potential” and preparing for the great day when they grow. As the focal characters, Hamill and Berman drink deeply from the cup of Freud’s Id koolaid. Their stage-presence is so potent that even when offstage, they are still a force to be reckoned with.
The entire cast exercises great stamina. Their frenetic energy is a constant in their performances. Mommy and Daddy aren’t exactly sane but Mackay-Smith and Hahhad make them believable. It is up to Tasia A. Jones to play the character/s that sprinkle reality in the crazy-goulash everyone else seems to be inhaling with gusto.
The Embryos is a well-written play that handles touchy subjects such as women’s healthcare, the legal system, stem cell research, cannibalism and the Christian church with handfuls of salt and absurdity. One could be offended by the topics covered in Lazarus’ play but each is wrapped so thickly in a layering of satire that it would require an awfully thin skin. It is more likely that an audience member will hate themselves for laughing at inappropriately apt statements about society’s failings than the subject matter. Even still, this production may inspire deep thinking about parenthood and the expectations we put on younger generations. You have been warned.