By Lawrence Dial; Directed by Jeff Wise
Produced by Wheelhouse Theater Company
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 1.28.17
The 4th Street Theatre, 83 East 4th Street
by Shoshana Roberts on 1.12.17
Ben Mehl, Rachel Mewbron, and Suzy Jane Hunt in DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA. Photo by Steve Fallon.
BOTTOM LINE: A stressful drama that has two families questioning their life choices; as they try to move forward, each of them must figure out what they want.
DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA, written by Lawrence Dial, and directed by Jeff Wise brings us into the world of two families that don't quite have their ducks in a row. Actually, I would be surprised if any of the ducks were even in the same vicinity. It is a stressful world with one of the moms even saying she is a “clusterfuck of fear and joy all the time.” Each of these two families has two parents, two children, and a multitude of problems.
This is not a show for kids. It has drugs, cursing, and sex, as well as other adult themes that young people don't think much about, like purpose, hopes, and dreams. The stage is littered with these ideas, as well as children's toys. Questions keep popping up throughout the show to also litter our minds. Do we give up on our dreams to have kids? Do we want another child? Where do our jobs fit into our lives? Do we even like what we are doing? Are our choices making us happy? Are we stuck in a rut? Do we want to be alive? What do we feel? Can we be faithful? Does the one we love have faith in us? Are we paying attention to our kids? Are we aware of our own needs? These serious questions in this production are brought about by play dates, injuries, birthing stories, attempting to connect with people unlike ourselves, and smoking weed.
Danny (Ben Mehl) and his wife Donna (Rachel Mewbron) have two girls, Franny and Millie. Donna is a successful corporate woman with a job about “math” that Danny doesn't really understand. They seem to be on different pages these days as Donna is up for a promotion at work. Unfortunately the new position would potentially involve travel, but she is barely around much as it is. Danny isn't playing music anymore and he is a stay at home dad, which he loves...for the most part. The problems seem to be piling up though as he and Donna struggle to communicate and he doesn't know who to turn to. Luckily he meets another parent who has kids the same ages as Franny and Millie. Kris (Suzy Jane Hunt) is a stay at home mom with two boys, Tyler and “Little” Ronnie. Her wife is “Medium” Ronnie (Liz Wisan), short for Veronica. Kris has her own world of issues as she Ronnie don't have much money, and it's hard to keep profitable the pizza shop that “Big” Ronnie (her dad) opened. Kris used to be a nurse, but will not share too much about it with Danny as the two of them watch their kids play at the park. When one of the kids ends up getting hurt it is hard to know if everyone will be able to hold it together.
Even the title of DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA demonstrates the stress and anxiousness permeating the plot, the characters, and even the set. Words shoved together, in your face, loud, and flowing, until a disjointed stop incites a change of ideas. As a nervous person I definitely sat uneasily for a long time. With the characters stepping by and tripping on toys strewn all over the floor, I wanted them to pick them up. Each toy seemed to be another dilemma the characters had in their life and they (the toys and the problems) stayed there for the whole show with little resolution. The cast has some strong chemistry, but as a woman in her mid-twenties without kids I couldn't relate as much. Unfortunately this show has me a bit scared for what the future may bring. Perhaps it is for people a little more sure of themselves and their life choices.
(DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA plays at the 4th Street Theatre, 83 East 4th Street, through January 28, 2017. The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30; Saturdays at 3 and 7:30; and Sundays at 3. Tickets are $18 and are available at brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006. For more information visit wheelhouse.theater.)
DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA is by Lawrence Dial. Directed by Jeff Wise. Set Design is by Brittany Vasta. Lighting Design is by Drew Florida. Sound Design is by Justin Propper. Stage Manager is Veronica Lee.
The cast is Suzy Jane Hunt, Ben Mehl, Rachel Mewbron, and Liz Wisan.