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Theater review

Love Child

Tour de farce.

                                            

New World Stages. By Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton. Dir. Carl Forsman. With Jenkins, Stanton. 1hr 20mins. No intermission.

Love Child is birthed before our eyes in a labor of love, and the labor pains are evident: By the end of their two-man show, Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton are both drenched in sweat. And who wouldn’t be, after the theatrical workout they put themselves through here? Deploying an arsenal of accents, mannerisms, pantomime gestures and makeshift sound effects, these two protean writer-actors play all 20 or so roles in a frenetic backstage farce that would leave even a full cast panting for breath.

In style, this adorably madcap show is something like an even more compressed version of Broadway’s The 39 Steps (The 12 Steps, maybe?), and most of the fun comes from watching Jenkins and Stanton switch madly among their characters. Jenkins plays Joel, a struggling actor who produces Off-Off Broadway adaptations of the classics; his latest project is an update of Euripides’ obscure lost-child comedy, Ion, whose themes come to be mirrored in his own life. He also doubles as numerous others, but the priceless Stanton—one of New York’s best comedic actors—has most of the showier comic roles, including turns as Joel’s neurotic talent-agent mother, his British-voiced thespian girlfriend, a sedative-addled character actor and a Latina spitfire. Carl Forsman’s clean direction helps the audience keep all of these characters relatively straight. And even when the plotlines get blurry, Jenkins and Stanton are always fun to watch and envy: These are two talented bastards.—Adam Feldman

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