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The Right Way To Sue

Presented by New Georges and HERE at the HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave., NYC, May 19-June 9.

In Ellen Melaver's manic and uneven new comedy, "The Right Way to Sue," Maggie (a convincing Jennifer Morris) is continually losing her newborn daughter. At play's start, she doesn't even realize she has left the baby at Zabars until a sullen, monotone teen named Sue brings the baby to the Upper West Side apartment Maggie shares with her husband, Tom. Maggie then asks the stranger to baby-sit while she and Tom have brunch with Maggie's boss, Franklin.

Sue, however, absconds with the baby to New Jersey, forcing the well-off, snobbish parents to overcome their horror of getting on a bus bound for the Garden State in order to find the right way to Sue. From there they meet a zoned-out hairdresser (played by Caitlin Miller, who walks a fine line between excess and hilarity), and a series of mothers (all played by T.R. Knight, who also plays Franklin). The piece eventually explores why Sue possesses so much anger, and allows Maggie and baby to bond.

The main problem here is the message, which is decidedly unclear. One point seems to be that you shouldn't have a baby because you think you should; another may be to present a "real" look at parenthood by bringing to the fore a mother's and father's inner misgivings about parenthood. Tom, for instance, has a monologue on how his wife's role as a mother affects him, but the alleged humor masks an underlying sourness and disgust. And even Kelly AuCoin, who is generally quite likeable and good here, can't make the speech palatable.

As Sue, Stephanie Brooke's lack of inflection is at first quite funny (and somehow refreshing), but becomes a little stale, mainly because her plot line fails her. Director Anne Kauffman seems to have allowed the tone and pace of the play to get away from her, particularly in the second act.

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