Written by Mike Amato
Directed by Andrea Andresakis
The press release for THE EGG PROGECT describes the play as being inspired by the works of Edward Albee. Indeed, the show has a number of Albee-esque elements: the return of if a prodigal child, the use of a quartet composed of an older couple and a young one, the malignity lurking beneath the respectable veneer of the middle class. But with its weird-science premise and twist ending, Mike Amato’s macabre romp has more in common with a vintage Roald Dahl short story.
After a 15-year absence, Marty (Amato) returns to the lake house of his childhood. His parents are happy to know that he’s alive after having heard rumors to the contrary. Marty’s mother Barbara (Melissa Eddy Quilty) is a domineering matriarch who makes a highly symbolic hobby of sculpting a perfect likeness of her son. Marty’s dad Robert (Gary Ray) is a kind of absent minded professor, perpetually tinkering with old cars and crazy inventions in his backyard lab. Given the meddlesome nature of both parents, it’s not surprising that Marty has stayed away for so long. But does he really have the maturity to stand on his own? His fiancée Leslie (Monica Wyche), a successful media personality, has literally constructed a new identity for him: one that Barbara feels honor-bound to challenge. While the women play tug-of-war, Robert reveals the big “surprise” he has planned for Marty. His shockingly successful foray into genetics threatens not only Marty and Leslie’s happiness, but the very nature of reproduction as we know it. In effect an immaculate conception, Robert’s creature raises all manner of questions for his Catholic family. More enmeshed than ever in the clan’s dysfunctional dynamic, Marty must makes a fateful decision.
The action slows a bit in the play’s second half, as a few rambling soliloquies go on longer than is necessary. When the plot resumes, though, the evening moves entertainingly to its grimly comic denouement. Ray endows Robert with comic sincerity, cluelessly letting his good intentions obfuscate the cataclysmic consequences of his actions. Quilty exudes coiled viciousness as the tigress on whose territory Leslie has little hope of trespassing safely. Amato’s neurotic Marty proves an apt counterpart to Wyche’s empowerment-preaching Leslie. Director Andrea Andresakis keeps the cues crisp and makes adroit use of the Teatro SEA’s intimate space. With a bit of trimming, THE EGG PROGECT would be a more satisfying ride, but its combination of wild incident with solid dramatic structure is nonetheless enjoyable.
THE EGG PROGECT continues through August 30 at Teatro SEA at the Clemente
107 Suffolk Street, NYC – between Rivington & Delancey. Tickets: http://fringenyc.org/resources/buying-tickets/