Dada Woof Papa Hot shows that modern parenthood's not just for straight people | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Dada Woof Papa Hot shows that modern parenthood's not just for straight people 

"Isn’t being normal the most radical thing of all?" God no!

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Michael Brosilow

It's never been lost on the gay community that the entire blueprint for modern child rearing and tin-through-golden-years marriage is based upon the written and unwritten laws of straight people.

But only in the past decade have LGBTQ folks gotten the opportunity to put, on a wide scale, different philosophies and theories about partnerships and raising a family into practice within mainstream culture. "Isn't being normal the most radical thing of all?" asks a father played by Jos N. Banks in Peter Parnell's exceptionally relevant and astute relationship drama. (For the record, God no).

Keira Fromm's nuanced and universally well-cast About Face production tracks a handful of well-to-do New York couples, gay and straight, through the thornier challenges of staying true to themselves while, as one of the characters puts it, "playing the role of parents." It's the sort of one-act show that feels like the culmination of a prestige television season: challenging and populated by richly defined characters who make arguable decisions sure to strike a multitude of different chords with different audiences.

While Parnell's story deals exclusively with the sort of monied couples that can quibble over risotto, elite private schools, and carefully negotiated extramarital trysts, the action in Fromm's production is always informed by questions and complications regarding class and race and social systems. It's hands down one of the most interesting examinations of contemporary gay life I've seen in recent memory, and the discomfiting tactic used here of holding up a mirror to its audience without cynicism or sweetening is on par with Stephen Sondheim.   v

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