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"Cradle and All" by Daniel Goldfarb Opens at Manhattan Theatre Club, City Center Stage I
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"Cradle and All" by Daniel Goldfarb Opens at Manhattan Theatre Club, City Center Stage I

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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Cradle and All
(Show Website)

By Daniel Goldfarb
Directed by Sam Buntrock

Manhattan Theatre Club
City Center Stage I
West 55th Street, Btw. 6th and 7th Avenues

Artistic Director, Lynne Meadow
Executive Producer, Barry Grove

Maria Dizzia and Greg Keller

Scenic Design, Neil Patel
Costume Design, Mattie Ullrich
Lighting Design, Ken Billington
Sound Design, Jill BC DuBoff
Production Stage Manager: Hannah Cohen
Artistic Producer: Mandy Greenfield
General Manager, Florie Seery
Stage Manager, Jillian M. Oliver
Director of Marketing, Debra Waxman-Pilla
Production Manager, Joshua Helman
Director of Casting, Nancy Piccione
Director of Artistic Development: Jerry Patch
Press Representative, Boneau/Bryan-Brown

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 15, 2011

Two actors, Maria Dizzia and Greg Keller, play two sets of characters, who live in nearby apartments in Brooklyn Heights. The first set, Claire DeRosier and Luke Sean Joy, have been living together for five years in upscale serenity, but, in spite of dozens of long stemmed red roses and a trail of petals strewn about, there’s a level of passion that’s lacking. In Act I, “Infantry”, the subject of their lost intimacy unfolds, with Luke caught up in his antique dealing, and Claire caught up in a plot to conceive a child. So much for the rose petals, Luke wants status quo, and the background noise of a baby crying down the hall adds fuel to the fire. Claire longs for a baby of her own, crying and all, and relates a tale about a long ago abortion, plus a soliloquy of angst. Their apartment has a decorative fireplace, paintings on the walls, and a bottle of wine, ready to celebrate Luke’s successful sale of a rare antique. Revelations continue to unfold, with Claire a bit older and Luke carving more personal distance; their relationship is transforming. Nothing seems to resolve, and the experience is somewhat like viewing a scene from couple’s therapy.

The second set of characters in Act II, “The Extinction Method”, Annie Saxe and Nate Hamburger, are the couple with the baby down the hall, in a messier image of the earlier apartment. Kitchen equipment is almost the same, the fireplace has burnt wood, and a baby’s toys and equipment are strewn about where rose petals had lain. Ms. Dizzia is no longer in casual chic, but rather in casual workout. Mr. Keller is a theatrical wannabe and unemployed. The subject of sex re-appears, and, lo and behold, Annie and Nate’s level of intimacy is barren as well, as their 11 month-old baby Olivia wails non-stop. In fact, she’s been wailing for almost a year, and the couple’s therapist is on the other end of their laptop, dispensing baby boot camp, aka a closed door. For the audience, this incessant sound effect was close to torture. Close to – because, thankfully, there were lapses. When Annie and Nate closed the door, the sound ceased, until the audio monitor was intermittently checked. Annie and Nate had a common goal, to wean Olivia from being accompanied to sleep, but they wrestled and argued, as the going got tough.

Annie and Nate reminisced about their lost intimacy and their romantic evenings alone, while Claire and Luke separately reminisced. Claire longed for the early romance with Luke and the imaginary child she could have had in a different life. Luke, meanwhile, seemed to long for the early romance with Claire, before she thought of settling down. Luke was the most opaque of the four characters, and the hardest to like. He was self-absorbed, conflicted, and very au courant. Claire was more the throwback to an age when women thought they could persuade a reticent man into marriage and fatherhood. Annie and Nate were emotionally transparent, had more chemistry, and exuded more personality. But, there were more soliloquies, and psychobabble ensued. Daniel Goldfarb’s new play is more social commentary than absorbing drama. The level of dramatic fascination barely rises above sitcom. However, Neil Patel’s sectioned set, with kitchen-dining turned to kitchen-living, apartment as entertaining venue turned to apartment as nursery and crash pad, is exceptional. Sam Buntrock, Director, and Mr. Goldfarb could tighten the rambling dialogue and decrease the oppressive wailing. This play has much potential, and the social commentary is usually right on the mark.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at