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My Mother's a Baby Boy

Reviewed by Leonard Jacobs

Presented by Jack Pierson at the Kraine Theatre, 85 E. 4th St., NYC, Jan. 18-Feb. 3.

Beyond the obvious strengths of Chris Burns' "My Mother's a Baby Boy"—good structure, strong acting—there's a tone that lingers beyond the play's relentlessly quirky humor. It's a yearning for meaningful interaction between people. At a time when instant communication has never been easier, Burns explores the irony of our growing inability to hear each other.

"Baby Boy," also directed by Burns, serves up contemporary relationships—platonic, paternal, romantic—as a cocktail of dry wit and dripping sarcasm, shaken, not stirred, into dark and stormy comedy. And it all exudes a hint of anger:

The Forgetful Man (Baylen Thomas), talking futilely to strangers in the street.

Mathilda (Andrea Cirie), Richard (Stephen Speights), Kieley (Annie Meisels), and Kieley's Mom (Charlotte Patton), yakking right over each other, each awash in self-pity and self-examination.

A Scorned Armed Woman (Caroline Ficksman) pointing her gun toward Bill (Tim McGee) in blackout scenes nearly devoid of dialogue.

Two Moviegoers (Jane Casserly, David Haugen) repeatedly lamenting a fallen relationship.

Ben (Burns again) and Claire (Helen Coxe) never moving from dating to mating because her excessive reliance on telecommunications technology prevents their hook-up.

Cirie, Speights, Miesels, and Patton are particularly memorable in their scenes, perhaps because Burns, in this instance, takes the time to develop the relationships between the characters. Even so, their connections remain too amorphous; a climactic scene between Kieley and her Mom, complete with overlapping dialogue, lacks the proper depth at the moment we should care the most.

One does feel for performers having to play the blizzard of swift, tiny scenes, especially those in which there's little dialogue to accompany facial expressions held frozen in 10-second sketches. The effect is frequently more comical, however, than many 10-minute scenes from less interesting plays. It's all very TV—MTV, perhaps—with a lulling, transfixing feel, complete with remote.

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