The play about the baby

In March 2020, Theatre L’Acadie opened a production of Tennessee Williams’s The Two Character Play the same week the city locked down for the COVID-19 pandemic: sibling actors, mad and maddening, tilt on the edge between fantasy and reality with a backstory of undefined trauma. Two years later, we return to nearly the same scenario—two characters, claustrophobic make-believe, submerged psychological wounds—in Callie Kimball’s Things That Are Round (directed by Erin Sheets). But true to our participation in the long-present pandemic, we never get to leave the living room—nevertheless, pandemonium.

Things That Are Round Through 8/28: Wed-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM, Facility Theatre, 1138 N. California, theatrelacadie.com, $20 suggested donation

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A dentist in her middle years, Tetherly (Capri Gehred-O’Connell) seeks a nanny for her son Dylan. Erstwhile paralegal and aspiring opera singer Nina (Laura Jasmine) is no Mary Poppins, but she’ll do just about anything for cash paid in advance. “He’s so easy,” wheedles Tetherly, wielding wads of hundred-dollar bills. There’s just one catch: Dylan is imaginary, also deaf—NBD, right? 

What could be the world’s easiest babysitting assignment becomes a daily game of inventing reality in combative dialogues between tense Tetherly and nasty Nina, who, despite the odds, become friends—if friends who pay friends are friends. Gehred-O’Connell’s Tetherly is high-pitched as a drill; Jasmine’s Nina is petulant and practical—she saves her imagination for making money out of molehills. In the confines of Tetherly’s living room, which is stacked with the cardboard boxes and plastered with the Post-it notes of a life approached provisionally, patients, partners, and practical matters become as insubstantial, invisible, and inaudible as Dylan. The truth is not beautiful; the beautiful is not true, but shared fantasies (and/or finances) become the basis of real relationships. 

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