40 Weeks

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Photo Source: Michael Mallard
A first pregnancy can make for a tense time, but for Angie and Mark in Michael Henry Harris' "40 Weeks," their upcoming blessed event is just one of many stresses.

For starters, the pregnancy has come unexpectedly, and the big job offer that Mark (Jorge Cordova) turned down beforehand is no longer available. A novelist with one book published, Mark has received only rejections for his second, and his worth as a breadwinner is severely diminished by the menial job he holds at the office of his friend Scott (Ronan Babbitt).

Although Angie (Megan Hart) is a doctor, the economic pressures on the couple are severe: She works at a free clinic and is burdened with hefty student loans. And to top things off, Angie's lesbian lover from the past, Molly (Michelle David), has just returned from years of doing good works in Africa and is igniting old and dangerous feelings.

The script, which in cinematic style consists primarily of brief scenes, duly notes all these plot points, but they rarely catch compelling dramatic fire or achieve great comedic buoyancy, for that matter. (The program describes the work as a "comedic drama.")

The plot's most potentially amusing notion is Mark's attempt to peddle his unwanted novel in the subway, but the idea is only scantily developed. And as the play widens focus in its second half to portray the developing love affair between Molly and Scott, the show begins to feel like it's merely meandering to no particular purpose.

This is the first full-length production for Harris, who is co-artistic director of InViolet Rep, and despite the play's dramaturgical deficiencies, he exhibits a promising talent for breezy, naturalistic dialogue. More important, his writing evinces an appealing affection for his characters, sketchy as they may often seem.

The cast delivers able representations of these characters but, for the most part, can't bring much more depth or magnetism to them than the script provides. However, David adds a smartly convincing and brazen intelligence to her portrayal of Molly as an independent woman of the world able to set off sexual sparks, whether she's making out with Scott or Angie. And Cordova at times does engage sympathy for Mark's plight.

Danton Stone's sturdy direction keeps things clipping along at a reasonable pace, considering the many elongated breaks between scenes necessitated by costume changes.

Presented by InViolet Repertory Theater at the 4th Street Theatre, 83 E. Fourth St., NYC. Feb. 26–March 12. Mon., Wed.–Sat., 7:30 p.m. (212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, www.theatermania.com, or www.invioletrep.com.