“THE CALL” WELL WORTH THE WAIT


By BONNIE GOLDBERG

Selecting a restaurant and an entree are decisions that are easily accomplished. The consequences for choosing badly are brief and inconsequential in the long run. Some decisions, however, are weighted and ponderous in their implications and can’t be easily changed once a course is taken. Such is the case with Pater and Annie, a slightly older couple who want to complete their family by adding a child.

Hartford TheaterWorks is opening the door and the heart to parenthood with Tanya Garfield’s involving drama, “The Call,” until Sunday, June 19. Here the stakes are high. Annie has endured the pain and disappointment of tests and treatments, experienced a trio of miscarriages and even entertained the idea of hiring a surrogate. Peter is supportive and shares her desire to embrace parenthood.

Mary Bacon’s beautifully heartbroken Annie is beset by worries. Even as she plans and paints the perfect baby’s room, she agonizes over whether she’ll be good enough to earn the coveted title “mom.” We, the audience, are carried along on her emotional journey, especially when she and hubby Todd Gearhart’s Peter decide to venture overseas on a cross-cultural African adoption.

With good friends, a lesbian African-American couple Rebecca (Jasmin Walker) and Drea (Maechi Aharanwa), offering concern and advice, it is truly Peter and Annie’s new next door neighbor Alemu, a helpful in-your-face Michael Rogers, who provides the wisdom and words to help them reach the appropriate decision in this highly personal arena. Jenn Thompson sensitively directs this fresh and probing drama about what separates and unites us in our desire to make this planet a better place to live, even if it is just for one child. As the Talmud states, if you save one life it is as if you have saved the world.

Ironically, in the case of life imitating art, both Mary Bacon and Jenn Thompson are intimately tied to this question of parenthood, both having adopted children from Ethiopia, Mary having stayed in the country for a time as a volunteer to learn about her son’s heritage. Her husband, Andrew Leynse, is the artistic director of New York’s Primary Stages, the theater that originally produced “The Call” in 2013.

For tickets ($40-65, student rush when available $15, seniors $35 at Saturday matinees), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org.  Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and weekend matinees at 2:30 p.m.

In celebration of its 30 year anniversary, TheaterWorks will hold a gala party on Saturday, June 4, starting at 6 p.m. Utilizing all levels of the theater building, guests will travel from space to space enjoying pasta, wine, burgers and brews, jazz and country, and even a chance to dance. Tickets for all this enjoyment start at $195.

Watch the global community shrink down to one well appointed apartment where the ringing of the telephone has the potential to change lives in infinitely astonishing ways. Come take the complicated journey all the way to love.

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