Tension and wit play out on Lakewood theater stage

A Kid Like Jake’ produced at Bench

Posted 2/27/18

Michael Duran’s delightful blocks/games-like set at the newly located Bench at 40 West Theatre in Lakewood suggest child’s play as lights dim and one tunes into Alex Wheeler (Adrian Egolf), …

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Tension and wit play out on Lakewood theater stage

A Kid Like Jake’ produced at Bench

Posted

Michael Duran’s delightful blocks/games-like set at the newly located Bench at 40 West Theatre in Lakewood suggest child’s play as lights dim and one tunes into Alex Wheeler (Adrian Egolf), stewing over an essay. It’s part of a kindergarten application for her bright 4-year-old son Jake — she hopes to get him admitted to one of the prestigious private Manhattan schools so he’ll have the best possible start in his education ... Such is the opening of “A Kid Like Jake.”

Enter Greg Wheeler, Jake’s dad and a successful lawyer (Antonio Amadeo), who, while encouraging her, also expresses concern over Jake’s preference for all things Cinderella, instead of GI Joe. Tension ... Alex has recently repaired a broken Cinderella figure.

While young Jake never actually appears on the scene, he is certainly the center of this world, staged by skilled director Warren Sherrill. Linda Suttle of Littleton was assistant director.

“When Jake was born, I felt like I was starting my life,” Alex recalls, perhaps a typical thought with immature young mothers, who have yet to figure out all the moving pieces involved in family life.

The anxious parents visit consultant Judy (Martha Harmon Pardee) at Jake’s preschool, who reminds them of the odds — “Dawson had 500 applications for 30 spots last year.” And she expresses concern that Alex hasn’t mentioned the child’s inclination towards “gender-variant play, which is a big part of his personality ...” Greg wonders about taking him “to a specialist.”

When he picks the child up after school, Greg takes him to McDonald’s — a no-no on Alex’s list and tension increases as each parent stresses over what might be best for their beloved child — who has been angry enough to throw Cinderella at a babysitting grandma.

Pearle’s dialogue is crisp and brings some humor to relieve tension in this collision course, but disagreements continue. And to add problems — Alex is newly pregnant! Madison McKinley Scott appears as a sympathetic nurse in a brief doctor’s office visit.

The play is well-written — it premiered in New York at the Lincoln Center. The production is polished and professional and we’ll look forward to seeing more works by this young playwright, as well as additional productions by this recently organized theater company. Later this year, watch for “The Arsonists,” “Uncanny Valley,” “What You Will” and the second annual “Fever Dream Festival.”

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