The Happiest Medium Review by guest contributors Anjali Koppal and Saurabh Paranjape
We went into Dorothy Fortenberry’s Good Egg expecting a light hearted take on the subject of embryo selection, probably due to the play’s frothy self-description (“A funny and surprising play about bioethics, siblings, and the limits of unconditional love”). We walked out of this emotional roller coaster ride overwhelmed by the overall experience. The play might not have delivered what it promised, but it blew our minds away with powerful performances and a strong message.
Good Egg has a simple, linear story. Meg (Andrea Day) lives with her brother Matt (Dan McCabe), who is on medication for bipolar disorder. Pressured by the ticking of her biological clock, and the threat of infertility that endometriosis brings, Meg decides to have a baby with sperm from a donor. When Matt finds out that Meg plans to screen her embryos for diseases, including bipolar disorder, he tries to convince her otherwise, thus leading the audience through a deep exploration of how this disease affects the life of the patient and their loved ones.
The play addresses tough questions asked in difficult situations. Is a fear of lifelong loneliness a good enough reason to want to have a baby? Is it morally correct to screen your potential babies in search of the ‘perfect’ one? What does it feel like to live with someone suffering with bipolar disorder, and how much responsibility does one have towards an adult sibling suffering from bipolar disorder? But instead of slipping into pedantic debate, the play successfully broaches these topics through subtle theatrical devices. Kudos especially to composer Colin Wambsgans and sound designer Katherine A. Buechner, who expertly rework the peppy, upbeat soundtrack of ‘Singin’ in The Rain’ to fit the mood of the play.
Good Egg depends solely on only two actors (and minimal set design) to run the show, and the leads do not disappoint. Andrea Day as an elder sister who ploughs through life’s infinite obstacles with sticky notes and organized folders, is flawless. Day’s performance makes you ache as you watch her swim against the seemingly insurmountable tide of a life held hostage by bipolar disorder. Dan McCabe brilliantly essays the very difficult role of a bipolar patient with the necessary erratic edge. As you watch McCabe leap across the stage, singing in gay abandon one minute, and bawling inconsolably another, you can’t help but share his impotent frustration at a disorder he neither understands nor is able to manage. Director Kel Haney has firm control over the emotional barometer of the play, deftly easing us into the siblings’ calm, almost perfect world, before transforming it without warning into a raging sea of emotional tumult.
As is tradition, the Red Fern Theater Company production has partnered with the Family Center for Bipolar Disorder to bring Good Egg to stage, with a part of the box-office proceeds going to the organization. An engaging and thoroughly professional play with riveting performances and a powerful message that addresses important social themes that need much attention — Good Egg should certainly be on your list of must-watches this weekend!
~~~Good Egg Written by DOROTHY FORTENBERRY
Directed by KEL HANEY LABA Theatre The 14th Street Y 344 East 14th Street (between First and Second Avenues) .
Running through Sunday, November 7 Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 3 p.m. (No performance on Sunday October 24) Additional performances on Monday October 25th and November 1st at 8pm .
Tickets are $25 and are now available online www.theatermania.com or by calling 866.811.4111 Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the theater box office ½ hour prior to the performance. Website: www.redferntheatre.org