By Tracey Knight Narang; Directed by Charles E. Gerber
Produced by Tek Theatrical Productions
Part of the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.30.15
VENUE #1: Teatro SEA at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street
by Adrienne Urbanski on 8.26.15
Tom Berdik and Catherine Frels in To Each Their Own. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.
BOTTOM LINE: This compelling portrait of the struggles and secrets of one family is worth the ticket price.
In our current economy, establishing oneself professionally and financially takes much longer than ever before, and it has become increasingly common to see thirty-somethings still job hopping and returning to school for additional degrees. Unfortunately, the fertility timeline has not changed with a woman’s early twenties being her most optimal time to get pregnant, despite the fact that for many women having a baby this early would have a negative impact on their lives. This conundrum is explored in Tracey Knight Narang's To Each Their Own, in which Liz (Catherine Frels) and John (Tom Berdik), a wealthy Upper East Side couple, wait until they are further along in their careers to consider having children. Waiting this long proves to make the chances of getting pregnant slim, and Liz and John endlessly attempt fertility treatments in the hopes of having a child of their own. In one scene set in the couple's comfy living room, Liz discusses the possibility that she might finally be pregnant once and for all and the satisfaction this potential child will finally bring to her life.
Meanwhile, Liz’s sister Jenn (Elizabeth Inghram) provides a foil to the couple, as she had a child at twenty-one and now feels like she missed out on her youth. Since she was unable to enjoy her twenties, Jenn seems to be forever stuck in adolescence, behaving like a woman much younger than she really is. Thanks to her family’s and husband’s wealth, she is able to ship her child off to boarding school so she can spend her time perfecting her fit body and penning books with such titles as Yummy Mummy.
John’s mother Helen (Sandra Karas) seems to be suffering from holding on too long to her own secrets and painful memories. She discusses a mysterious boyfriend in California no one has ever met and the pain of losing a mentally disabled daughter forty years earlier. Slowly, the truth of Helen’s story is revealed piece by piece to the audience, as are the other secrets locked up in this family’s dark closet. Running through all three women’s stories are questions about what one sacrifices to have children, what one loses by not having children, the risks inherent in having children, and whether offspring are an essential part of the experience of being human.
The sparse but well-designed set easily evokes an inviting home, a feeling that matches the theme of hidden family secrets. Each of the cast members also skillfully tackles the more emotionally dramatic scenes of the play, making this feel like an intimate portrait of the true feelings and secrets of one family, rather than a soap opera. Directed by Charles E. Gerber, all of the stories intertwined in this production are told well and at a pace that remains compelling to the audience. To Each Their Own is tale that will grab your attention from start to finish.
(To Each Their Own plays at VENUE #1: Teatro SEA at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, through August 30, 2015. Remaining performances are Sat 8/29 at 7; and Sun 8/30 at Noon. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit toeachtheirown.net.)