by Matthew A. Everett | 8/6/09 • An Odd Couple That Can Really Push Each Others’ Buttons
“You’re ruined now anyway. Once you go black, you can’t go back.”
Warsh lut Productions
The full production of Oops! both delivered (no pun intended) and then expanded on the promise evident in their Fringe-For-All preview. Colin Waitt’s script is a great showcase for both himself and his acting partner Jasmine Rush and they take full advantage of all its strengths (based, no doubt, on their own strengths as performers).
|single white fringe geek is the blog of matthew a. everett. in addition to being one of seven bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival for the daily planet, he blogs throughout the year about theater and culture.|
One night with a few too many drinks finds a gay man (Waitt) getting his best friend, a straight African-American woman (Rush), pregnant. Sounds like the lamest of sitcom premises, I know, but these two actors, under Tom Lloyd’s direction, really make the most out of it, often coming up with something that seems fresh and even new. Because the script isn’t afraid of making its characters seem unlikeable from time to time. These people make stupid decisions, and bringing a baby into the world doesn’t make them any smarter or less selfish overnight.
These are also old friends who know how to push one another’s buttons, and they do so with ferocity, and even glee. They get under each other’s skin by playing on racial and sexual stereotypes. But underneath it all, you can tell they love each other, and will find a way to stick by each other, even if they have no idea how.
It’s not simply a two character play, however. The actors also each take turns as the insistent baby-to-be, pulling on a baby bonnet and crawling around, making mischief in the troubled heads of its parents. The baby has the best and worst personality traits of its creators, and it’s not above playing dirty either.
Rush also takes on the role of Waitt’s proper upper class mother, while Waitt becomes Rush’s clueless doctor, and also her retired father. Parents know parenting isn’t easy, and rarely enters your life at a time you feel prepared. These conversations between parent and grown child have real intelligence and humanity behind them. They also give Rush and Waitt further opportunities to display their range as performers, beyond the comedy hijinks of impending parenthood.
Mom enjoyed this show even a little more than I did. She made a point of complimenting Rush in person later on in the festival. Mom says anyone who’s been pregnant sees the truth in what Rush’s character is experiencing.
I appreciated the subtle things that weren’t stated out loud but present in the structure of the script itself. One example is the appearance of the “baby in the mind’s eye.” The mind baby appears to Rush’s character almost immediately, since a woman is aware of the changes, and wraps her head around the notion of pregnancy much faster than a man. The mind baby appears to Waitt much later in the game, since a man often takes a little longer to process the idea of a baby as a person on its way, because he’s lucky enough not to be the one who has to carry it around inside him.
Oops! is a smart comedy about people who make a stupid mistake, and try to make it right. The pregnancy ended up being so entertaining, I’d almost like to see the next chapter, where they actually have to raise the child. If anyone can make that old chestnut new again, I think it’s these people.
Very Highly Recommended
Their Fringe-For-All preview
Their video trailer
Fringe 2009 – 8:30 Sunday – show #21
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