When you think about the millions of parents who wonder if their children will eat — nay, even if they will survive — today, there is a certain incongruity apparent in A Kid Like Jake, playing Sept. 3-7, 10-14, and 17-20 at Deep Dish Theater Company in University Mall Chapel Hill, NC. Playwright Daniel Pearle regales us with a mother, Alex, who gave up her career in law to raise her little boy, and a psychotherapist father whose marriage falters over how best to get the boy into the right private, expensive, Manhattan kindergarten, an important stepping stone to one of the Ivies. But this is not really a niche-audience show, and you don’t have to be affluent and climby to get the point here. The first world has become just that kind of complicated.
Deep Dish resident director Tony Lea has assembled and directed a fine cast to portray this both laughable and wrenching set of situations. It seems little Jake expresses himself at pre-school with “gender variant play,” and responds to the teasing that ensues with aggressive behavior. It turns out that the cross-playing can be a benefit to getting into some of the prestigious schools; but, of course, the disruptiveness is a liability.
Adding to tensions is the fact that Alex’s parents will be contributing to Jake’s tuition at this hall of advanced rudimentary education, demeaning her husband Greg’s influence in the decisions. Greg is even willing to put Jake into public school, of all things! While irony abounds here, the issues of money and child raising have been and remain among the the most contentious issues in marriage.
Alex is played by Meredith Sause, who brings her in as a pretty stable “non-psychotic” parent and builds her to a crescendo of frustration throughout the show, peaking at being informed that only three of the long list of potential scholarly kindergartens are considering Jake for admission.
Jim Moscater plays Greg as a laid back — perhaps even too laid back — and tolerant husband and participant father. They could be your next-door neighbors, for the most part. They are kind of your new neurotic folks coping in a near-insane world.
The role of Judy, the know-it-all Placement Counselor, is given to the very capable Rasool Jahan, who gives her the authority and charisma the part demands. Jess Jones serves double duty, showing us sympathy as the gynecologist’s nurse and maturity as the grown up Jake (in a dream sequence with Alex.)
Set designer Jenni Mann Becker creates a New York apartment with a fine view; however, the several locations require complex scene changes which tend to be disconcerting. This show might be better suited to television. We recommend this show for the high quality of performance and also because it is likely to promote discussion of contemporary social topics.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 1st Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/09/01/4115007_a-marriages-hidden-fissures-revealed.html.
Deep Dish Theater Company presents A KID LIKE JAKE at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3 and 4, 8 p.m. Sept. 5 and 6, 2 p.m. Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 and 11, 8 p.m. Sept. 12 and 13, 2 p.m. Sept. 14, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 17 and 18, and 8 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20 in Deep Dish’s performance space at 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514, between The Print Shop and the Public Library in University Mall.
TICKETS: $25 ($21 students and $23 seniors and educators), with a $2 discount for Wednesday and Thursday shows. Also, on Wednesdays, a certain number of “Cheap Dish” tickets will sold at the door for just $14.
BOX OFFICE: 919-968-1515 or https://www.vendini.com/.
2014-15 SEASON: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/productions.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/, https://www.facebook.com/deepdishtheater, and https://twitter.com/deepdishtheater.
NOTE 1: Dramaturg Karen Blansfield will present a pre-show “Meet-the-Play” talk at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 5th.
NOTE 2: There will be a post-performance discussions on Sunday, Sept. 7th, with the cast and Dr. Kathleen Gallagher of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute), and a Meet-the-Designers discussion on Thursday, Sept. 11th, with the production staff.
NOTE 3: The Deep Dish Book Selection, How Children Learn: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough, will be discussed at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 16th, at the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514.
A Kid Like Jake (2013 comedy/drama): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=4804 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.).
Daniel Pearle (playwright): http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsP/pearle-daniel.html (Doollee.com: The Playwrights Database).
Tony Lea (Deep Dish Theater Company resident director): http://www.deepdishtheater.org/productions?i=27 (Deep Dish Theater Company page).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.