LA Review: 'Reborning'

LA Review: 'Reborning'

at Chance Theater

By Eric Marchese

May 1, 2012


Photo by Doug Catiller
Zayd Dohrn’s drama “Reborning” zeroes in on Kelly, a young artist who lives in a studio loft in Queens, N.Y., with her artist boyfriend Daizy. While Daizy rather jokily hand-crafts dildos and other sexual fetish toys out of latex, Kelly labors lovingly over three-dimensional replicas of babies, a practice representative of a recent world phenomenon that gives the play its title, in which customers, generally women, spend upward of $4,000 for a top-quality doll that is often treated as if it were a live infant.

Kelly (Jennifer Ruckman) and Daizy (Casey Long) have an informal yet hermetic relationship that is pierced by the appearance of Emily (Karen Webster), a middle-aged woman who hires Kelly to create “baby Eva,” a re-creation of the infant daughter whom Emily gave birth to and raised—and whose sudden death crushed her. Most of her clients, Kelly notes, simply want a memento of their lost child and speak of their offspring in the past tense. Emily, though, still talks as if Eva were alive. Even after the replica is completed, she pushes Kelly to make the latex doll even more lifelike. To his dismay, Daizy watches Kelly’s focus narrow until it encompasses only her and the being she has come to believe is either her child or an infant version of herself. Kelly reveals that she was abandoned at birth and admits that she suffers from a “crippling OCD”; the former lays the groundwork for the intensely personal bonds that form between Kelly and both Emily and the new “baby,” while the latter explains Kelly’s driving perfectionism when it comes to creating human replicas. Both facets of Kelly’s personality set the stage for a showdown between her and Emily, wherein Kelly has become so attached to baby Eva that she regards the doll as a living being, refusing to yield her to the older woman.

Director Oanh Nguyen’s staging engenders the casual, bebop existence enjoyed by Kelly and Daizy as well as the way the presence of Emily and Eva in the couple’s lives forces a radical shift in Kelly’s personality, lifestyle, and regard for her work. Ruckman and Webster effectively enact an increasingly complex pas de deux between two women with very different agendas who nonetheless share traits such as compassion, sentimentality, and uncontrollable obsession. The two actors ramp up the story’s firepower, their interaction forming the basis for an intense character study admirably grounded in minute details. Daizy’s existence leavens the text, accounting for the show’s many lighthearted moments, and Long obliges with an enjoyable portrait of an utterly uncomplicated young man who’s a joker yet also affectionate and caring. Whether dramatic or comedic, every scene, line, and moment of Dohrn’s script is utterly realistic, bolstered by Amy Karich’s baby designs and Matthew Schleicher’s innovative video design. Bruce Goodrich’s set aptly supplies more detail in the stage area devoted to Kelly’s workspace than in her and Daizy’s dwelling. Ryan Brodkin’s sound and Brian S. Shevelenko’s lighting complete the sense of a documentary-like drama, one likely to elicit intense, visceral reactions from most viewers.

Presented by and at the Chance Theater, 5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills. April 20–May 20. Thu. and Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (866) 811-4111, (714) 777-3033, www.theatermania.com, or www.chancetheater.com.


LA Review: 'Reborning'

at Chance Theater

By Eric Marchese

May 1, 2012


PHOTO CREDIT
Doug Catiller
Zayd Dohrn’s drama “Reborning” zeroes in on Kelly, a young artist who lives in a studio loft in Queens, N.Y., with her artist boyfriend Daizy. While Daizy rather jokily hand-crafts dildos and other sexual fetish toys out of latex, Kelly labors lovingly over three-dimensional replicas of babies, a practice representative of a recent world phenomenon that gives the play its title, in which customers, generally women, spend upward of $4,000 for a top-quality doll that is often treated as if it were a live infant.

Kelly (Jennifer Ruckman) and Daizy (Casey Long) have an informal yet hermetic relationship that is pierced by the appearance of Emily (Karen Webster), a middle-aged woman who hires Kelly to create “baby Eva,” a re-creation of the infant daughter whom Emily gave birth to and raised—and whose sudden death crushed her. Most of her clients, Kelly notes, simply want a memento of their lost child and speak of their offspring in the past tense. Emily, though, still talks as if Eva were alive. Even after the replica is completed, she pushes Kelly to make the latex doll even more lifelike. To his dismay, Daizy watches Kelly’s focus narrow until it encompasses only her and the being she has come to believe is either her child or an infant version of herself. Kelly reveals that she was abandoned at birth and admits that she suffers from a “crippling OCD”; the former lays the groundwork for the intensely personal bonds that form between Kelly and both Emily and the new “baby,” while the latter explains Kelly’s driving perfectionism when it comes to creating human replicas. Both facets of Kelly’s personality set the stage for a showdown between her and Emily, wherein Kelly has become so attached to baby Eva that she regards the doll as a living being, refusing to yield her to the older woman.

Director Oanh Nguyen’s staging engenders the casual, bebop existence enjoyed by Kelly and Daizy as well as the way the presence of Emily and Eva in the couple’s lives forces a radical shift in Kelly’s personality, lifestyle, and regard for her work. Ruckman and Webster effectively enact an increasingly complex pas de deux between two women with very different agendas who nonetheless share traits such as compassion, sentimentality, and uncontrollable obsession. The two actors ramp up the story’s firepower, their interaction forming the basis for an intense character study admirably grounded in minute details. Daizy’s existence leavens the text, accounting for the show’s many lighthearted moments, and Long obliges with an enjoyable portrait of an utterly uncomplicated young man who’s a joker yet also affectionate and caring. Whether dramatic or comedic, every scene, line, and moment of Dohrn’s script is utterly realistic, bolstered by Amy Karich’s baby designs and Matthew Schleicher’s innovative video design. Bruce Goodrich’s set aptly supplies more detail in the stage area devoted to Kelly’s workspace than in her and Daizy’s dwelling. Ryan Brodkin’s sound and Brian S. Shevelenko’s lighting complete the sense of a documentary-like drama, one likely to elicit intense, visceral reactions from most viewers.

Presented by and at the Chance Theater, 5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills. April 20–May 20. Thu. and Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (866) 811-4111, (714) 777-3033, www.theatermania.com, or www.chancetheater.com.
 
Subscribe to Back Stage

More Advice

ADVERTISEMENT

Unscripted Blog


Visit Unscripted »

Sponsors

Back Stage Video

ADVERTISEMENT