Love Child

Off-Broadway, Play

Location: New World Stages (340 West 50th Street)

BOTTOM LINE: It's like watching two guys with multiple personality disorder on uppers.

Know who the two hardest working men in show business are? It has to be Robert Stanton and Daniel Jenkins, the sole cast members (and playwrights) of off-Broadway's Love Child, who tackle 22 characters between them (often at the same time). Their 90 minute, intermission-less play-within-a-play is an energetic marathon of characters, voices and sound effects, and Stanton and Jenkins do it all. These two guys manage to tell a very full story with well, with just themselves. And it's pretty unbelievable to witness.

Love Child is a love letter to the theatre. The story centers around Joel, a performer, writer and director currently starring in his own off-off-Broadway play called (not so coincidentally) Love Child. It's potentially his big break because some producers are in the audience and in true farcical fashion everything that goes wrong does. Out of the madness stems overdramatic reactions as the cast and crew try to cope...subsequent hilarity ensues.

Plot-wise, Love Child isn't exceptionally unique or exciting. Theatre about theatre frequently feels stale and it's hard to avoid navel-gazing when the line between onstage and offstage is so thin. Maybe I'm just jaded because it's such an overused theme, but you don't see Love Child because you want Shakespeare. And frankly, the plot is just a vehicle for Stanton and Jenkins to deliver hilarious characterizations and show off their tremendous comic chops. Because that's what it's really all about.

I sort of can't describe the speed at which Stanton and Jenkins flip from one character to another, but let's just say the story clips along at a speedy pace and most of the time there are more than two characters on that stage at one time. With clever nuances like posture, gestures, vocal inflection and pitch, all 22 characters are specific and it's usually simple to distinguish one from another. That doesn't mean the story is easy to follow. It's a freaking whirlwind, afterall. But in terms of clarification, Stanton, Jenkins and director Carl Forsman do a noble job keeping it on track. The staging helps with the clarification too, as Forsman establishes placement for each character. To keep things interesting, Stanton and Jenkins use the whole space to their advantage, sometimes even jumping into the audience when appropriate (the story does take place in a theatre).

It's obvious that Stanton and Jenkins are first-rate performers and their numerous Broadway credits are understandable. Impressively, their hefty bios include drama, classics and musicals, as well as comedy, which pretty much leads me to believe there isn't anything these two can't do. But aside from my awe for the performances Love Child offers, the show offers a fun night at the theatre too. You have to pay attention, so I can't say it's total escapism, but it isn't heavy stuff either. It's just an entertaining 90 minute ride.

(Love Child plays a limited engagement through January 3, 2010 at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. Performances are Monday at 8pm, Wednesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 4pm and 8pm and Sunday at 3pm and 7pm. Tickets are regularly $69.50-$99.50 but use discount code LCBBOX909 for $29.50-$39.50 tickets. To purchase tickets call 800.432.7250 or visit For more show info visit