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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Kid Thing: Lesbian Comedy-Drama Now at NCTC

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 6:02 PM

click to enlarge The cast of NCT's The Kid Thing, left to right: Desiree Rogers, Nick Mandracchia, Kimberly Ridgeway, Jaq Nguyen Victor, Sarah Coykendall - LOIS TEMA
  • Lois Tema
  • The cast of NCT's The Kid Thing, left to right: Desiree Rogers, Nick Mandracchia, Kimberly Ridgeway, Jaq Nguyen Victor, Sarah Coykendall
A packed crowd applauded the opening night performance of New Conservatory Theatre Center's The Kid ThingSarah Gubbins' play made its West Coast premiere on Saturday night and will run at NCT through Dec. 13.

The play focuses on two lesbian couples in Chicago who are grappling with the whys and wherefores of motherhood. Margo (Kimberly Ridgeway) and Nate (Jaq Nguyen Victor) are a deliriously happy couple. Margo has been impregnated by old college bud Jacob (Nick Mandracchia), a social justice activist who wants to be an uncle but not a dad. The two women are thrilled at the idea of being parents.

Their best friends are Darcy (Desiree Rogers) and Leigh (Sarah Coykendall). Bubbly lipstick lesbian Leigh wants to be a mom. Butch dyke Darcy? Not so much. Through a series of scenes set in Darcy and Leigh's living room, the drama unfolds.

There are more plot twists in the play then there were on yesterday's episode of Days of Our Lives. It turns out that Leigh and Jacob fooled around in college. Margo and Darcy had a more recent fling. Darcy and Leigh clearly love each other but their relationship is a bit troubled.

  • New Conservatory Theater

Gubbins' sharp, smart dialogue raises many thought-provoking issues through a combination of light comedy and serious drama. Sexual fluidity, in which individuals eschew labels and instead opt to follow their hearts, regardless of the other person's gender, comes up in a startling scene in which Leigh seems almost too anxious to have sex with Jacob. So she can become pregnant. Even though she loves Darcy.

Questions about fidelity are raised during the surprising mid-play scene which reveals the secret sexual liaison between Margo and Darcy. Darcy wants more. Margo wants to be true to her partner.

Gender roles are also questioned as the story continues. Nate and Darcy are about as butch as lesbians can be. Both identify as women but dress — and are often mistaken for — men. Darcy's hesitation in becoming a mom is rooted in her fear of what who she is and how she presents herself might do to a child growing up in a judgmental and hostile world.

The Kid Thing ends on an ambiguous note, the perfect conclusion for a play which questions issues yet to be resolved by the rapidly changing world we live in.

The cast is superb, with Rogers and Coykendall standing out as a couple who love each other deeply but want very different things. Coykendall shows a remarkable range as a woman who appears to be an airhead but who's needs and feelings run much deeper than what she lets people see. Rogers gives a powerful performance as a butch woman who's painfully aware of the fact that many people won't accept her as the person she knows herself to be.

This is good, strong, theater. The themes raised by The Kid Thing are universal — you don't have to be a lesbian, or a woman, to get this play. The opening night audiences was an even mixture of men and women. Both genders appeared to be equally enraptured.

The Kid Thing, through Dec. 13, at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness,  25 Van Ness, 415-861-8972.


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