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It goes through the mind of every woman who has ever wanted children: What if it doesn’t bond with me?
Or…what if I don’t have that maternal instinct that everyone talks about, what if I don’t feel anything?
I can only imagine the deluge of complicated feelings that wash over parents of a child who is born with mental or physical challenges.
And if your child is of indeterminate…species?
That could take post-partum depression to a whole new level.
Such is the premise of Smudge, directed by KOLT Run Creations co-founder Lisa Thew.
Colby and Nicholas Stillman are a happily married couple, eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first child, when an ambiguous ultrasound--one in which the baby appears more like a smudge than a fetus—ultimately sends their dreams, their plans, their family into a tailspin.
Playwright Rachel Axler, an Emmy Award-winning writer for The Daily Show and Parks and Rec, has found a way to approach an uncomfortable and sensitive subject. Although the script is not short on either compassion or witty banter, some of the scenes—specifically those when Colby is alone with her newborn—contain riffs that are brutal, considering the context.
The story is well balanced in its lack of balance; the parents remain on a roller coaster of emotions, a ride that will not be over anytime soon. This is their new life. What now?
KOLT Run Creations has again chosen a unique show that makes a simple but important statement, which allows the audience to talk and to consider after the final scene has been played.
Co-founder, Kelley Ogden gives a predictably strong performance as Colby, as does Barry Hubbard, as her husband, Nicholas.
What always impresses me about this company is the strong casting of the more peripheral players, who occasionally steal focus from the leads—but in a good way.
In Smudge, Eric Baldwin has those moments as the brother/co-worker-new uncle, fielding phone calls from the new grandmother who can’t understand why she hasn’t received a plane ticket, let alone a photo or two. His dialogue is snappy and caffeinated—more typical of what one might expect from a talented television comedy writer—and provides a little relief from the more intense scenes.
My sixteen-year old accompanied me to the opening night performance. Both of us gave it an unequivocal “thumbs up.”
It wasn’t until later that I realized how grateful I should be that between us we actually had those four opposable thumbs…
Smudge will be performed weekends through May 20th.
All shows will be at the Ooley Theater, 2007 28th Street in midtown Sacramento. Specific information about show times and tickets can be found online at www.KOLTRunCreations.com