From the intricately sequenced first act as the audience is privy to the email exchange between the six friends as they attempt to plan a baby shower, you know that you're in for an interesting theatre experience. Cindy Lin's set design provides the context for each of the women who, while close friends, live decidedly different lives as reflected by six separate modules.
Courtney Sauls, Sarah Utterback, Sonal Shah
Photo By Jeff Lorch
Sonal Shaw (Penny) is the catalyst attempting to wrangle her friends via her email chain. While the first act deals with the challenges of selecting a date and theme for the shower, we are introduced to the characters and their personalities. No doubt much of this is familiar to anyone who has attempted to throw a shower, baby or bridal, and the added complication of the "email conversations" work very well with much credit to both the playwright Nina Braddock and director Katie Lindsay.
While there were a few men in the audience, my husband included, there is no doubt that this is a woman's play. Still the questions that arise and the conflicts that occur provided an enlightening entry into the workings of women's group dynamics.
There is no doubt that this is an ensemble effort and program notes state that the play evolved in collaboration with the carefully selected and perfectly balanced cast. The six friends-a doctor, journalist, consultant, teacher, actress and software designer.
The second act begins with a monologue and any questions about miracle and physical aspects of childbirth were realistically and entertainingly answered delivered by Anna Rose Hopkins, as the actress, Natalia. Well-deserved applause followed.
Anna Rose Hopkins, Jenny Soo, Lalia Ayad
Photo by Jeff Lorch
The second act is set in the bathroom of the home where the shower is being held. The coming and goings (literally and figuratively) further illuminating the characters and their trials and tribulations. Again, if anyone ever wondered what goes on in those closed doors where women often gather, the play provided a glimpse that was achingly real.
Another revealing monologue concerning motherhood follows and Jenny Soo (Clara) new to the IAMA Theatre company showed that she is a fine talent who holds her own among the others fine performances by Laila Ayad (Meredith), Sarah Utterback (Eden) and Courtney Sauls (Gillian).
If you haven't attended a play at the Atwater Village Theatre, you are in for a treat. Home of The Open Fist, Circle X, Ensemble Studio Theatre and occasionally IAMA, the inner courtyard, proximity to a nearby restaurant and quiet neighborhood setting all add to the theatre goers experience.
The play runs Friday, Saturday and Mondays at 8pm and Sundays at 3:00. Close free parking.