Sean (Josh Morrison) and Dawn (Gwendolyn McLarty). Photo by www.RicOrnelProductions.com
Once you decide to become a parent, know that at some time you will become insufferable to your spouse, your child, and yourself. Joseph Lauinger gets that right in his world premiere play The Pie Dialogues at Main Street Theater. Lauinger’s play follows the life of Dawn and Sean, parents of dear little “Pie,” who travels from toddlerhood to bride without ever stepping foot on stage. Instead, we learn how the parents cope with everything from losing a little league game to a major illness in college.
The couple separates, divorces, and grows into an amiable friendship, tethered by their unconditional love for Pie. Each parent takes turns being completely unbearable: Dawn with her control freak ways, and Sean with his idiotic contract for his daughter’s celibacy. Warning to parents; you will see yourself here and not like what you see. The early scenes in this marriage are just plain tiresome. Parents know this stuff, do we need to see it on stage too? Luckily, Lauinger peppers his play with just enough witty banter in the second act that make us finally want to see what happens next to these two ill-fated parents. The scene when the two contemplate losing their daughter after a bout of pneumonia proves the most gripping and memorable of the play.
Josh Morrison turns in a solid and believable performance of Sean, the would be writer, who seems to just want a steady job at the local university. Gwendolyn McLarty imbues Dawn with just enough pathos to keep audiences from cringing during her tirades on everything from the color of her daughter’s room to the appropriate snacks.
The play is sensitively directed by Andrew Ruthven with a keen ear for the rhythm of dialogue. Simple set pieces by Liz Freese take us from a messy college dorm room to a swanky urban eatery. Lauinger hammers home the point that parenting is not for amateurs and comes with as much failure as joy. As usual with MST productions, the play is nicely scaled to fit into their intimate theater, if only it were a more compelling drama to be so close to.
The Pie Dialogues continues at Main Street Theater until March 22, 2009. 713-524-6706.
Reprinted from CultureVulture.net