This new charming play by Peter Parnell, Dada Woof Papa Hot, currently being presented at the Lincoln Center Theater on the Mitzi E. Newhouse stage, is very of the moment. “This is 2015”, the amazing new Prime Minster of Canada, Trudeau has said about gender equality in his cabinet. And I guess you could say the same about this play. It is very much of the moment, as more and more gay men are becoming parents and getting married. This play is for them in some ways, at least the well-off ones.
This telling and funny play, directed by Scott Ellis, is presented with the same sense of entitlement and luxury that many New Yorkers understand. Lots of discussion of the type of parental problems that come along with children of the well-off urbanite; psychotherapeutic talk of bonding, nannies, and private schools. And with any parental themed play, also comes the discussion of fidelity and sex. Only this time, we bring in the sexual language of gay men into the mix. Trying to figure out the same sexual dynamics, but maybe with a slight different bend to it. The gay sexual liberation of the 70’s and 80’s play a part in how they look at this new world of marriage, parenting, and fidelity. Some want to play by the same rules of the heterosexual norm, while others want to play outside those boundaries. Some want to do it all, in the Pines on Fire Island, surrounded by single free-loving young gay men, and in that comes some complications.
In many ways this is a standard play of parents dealing with the changes in life and the challenges of marriage and child rearing. A very well done and well written play, but standard none the less. The three main couples presented: Rob (an adorable Patrick Breen) a psychotherapist married to Alan (a wonderfully detailed John Benjamin Hickey) a freelance writer for The New Yorker and New York Times Magazine, naturally, with one 3 year old daughter; a younger sexy Jason (a perfect Alex Hurt), a painter married to a private equity guy, Scott (Stephen Plunkett) raising two boys; and the heterosexual couple and parents, Michael (a charming and funny John Pankow) and Serena (a hilarious and delightful Kellie Overbey), all doing excellent work here. Early on, Michael admits to Alan of an affair with another mom in this tight little community, Julia (a delicious Tammy Blanchard). This infidelity and the affairs that come after, become the main focus of deliberation. What are the new rules of gay men and how does it compare to the straight world? What happened to the new ideals that some gay men promoted in the 80’s? Are they gone as we slip into the hetero-normative modern world of gay parents and gay marriage? What becomes of those who didn’t partake in the sexual revolution? Is this the modern gay midlife parental crisis?
I’m not quite sure, but this is a beautifully crafted and designed play (sets: John Lee Beatty, costumes: Jennifer von Mayrhauser, lighting: Peter Kaczorowski). Luxurious and fitting of the world they are presenting. It’s well crafted and very well acted, but I just didn’t see the meat of the matter. It feels like I just had a slightly bland health-consious meal in the kind of hip new restaurant the play opens and closes in. It should be good, seeing where we are and how hard it is to get a reservation, but ultimately it’s not anything all that special, just another good and fine night out in Manhattan. But luckily, we are with some really good and entertaining friends. Who have a few stories to tell. And who left their children at home. With the nanny. Thank god.