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A CurtainUp Review
Log Cabin

We are shopping for sperm — Jules
log cabin
Ian Harvie, Talene Monahon, Dolly Wells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Phillip James Brannon in Jordan Harrison's Log Cabin. (Photo: Joan Marcus)
By 2012, progressive i.e. liberal social values were being enthusiastically courted and aggressively supported by a majority of Americans. A significant stumbling block, however, appeared in 2016 with the stunning election of Donald Trump who, along with his ultra conservative constituents, advanced a more socially regressive agenda.

Not to be daunted by or diverted from their pursuit of happiness, the LGBT community has collectively continued to actively foster and embrace a platform of inclusivity within the American dream machine. The six complicated characters who reside within Jordan Harrison's very entertaining dramedy Log Cabin contend with shifting attitudes. Also with unwavering ideals, they aspire to avoid the pitfalls of non-traditional conformity as well as the norms of a committed relationship.

Cheerfully if also a little bit impulsively, Ezra (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), who is white and his husband Chris (Phillip James Brannon) who is black come to the conclusion that after five years of marital bliss they are ready and prepared to have a baby fulfill their lives. This comes a year after a baby has apparently already enriched the lives of their best Lesbian friends Pam (Cindy Cheung) and Jules (Dolly Wells), and for whom Chris was awarded the honor of being their sperm donor.

So why not, as the plot thickens, ask Ezra's high school girl friend now Henry (Ian Harvie) a transgender to carry the baby that Ezra will father by insemination. For a short time, their plan/proposition isn't a major hurdle once Henry's relationship with Myna (Talene Monahon) a young woman who is only attracted to transgenders runs its course. At its most provocative, the play gives Henry the bully pulpit with flinty observations about the transgender's uneasy place in the gay community.

Harrison's audacious play runs its rambunctious course over a five years period. Punctuated with steady stream of sparkling, sometimes spiky, chatter, the two couples conventionalize their overlapping states of domesticity. On the surface, it may seem just pleasantly unremarkable. But amidst little bits of angst and a touch of betrayal, the playwright injects a fantastical element.

We are privy to the baby's room wherein we hear what it is all about from the baby's (dare we say?) conservative perspective. . .then two babies. More I cannot tell you, except they are as droll as they are delightful.

The cast is uniformly excellent and unquestionably invigorated by the sheer force of Ferguson's high octane performance. But a special shout-out goes to Brannon and Monahon who do comical double duty as the babies.

Harrison, whose plays include the provocative Pulitzer Prize finalist Marjorie Prime, Maple and Vine, and Doris to Darlene (see links to Curtainup reviews at end of my review), have won critical and audience approval, has found another niche for his keen dramatic and comedic sensibilities. It is easy to see that director Pam MacKinnon (Tony award for Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) is totally in synch with this satiric play that charts the journey of a gay couple, a Lesbian couple and a transgender one through their humorously impassioned trans-formations.

Links to Curtainup's reviews of Jordan Harrison's previous plays, all at Playwrights Horizon:
Marjorie Prime2015
Maple and Vine 2011
Doris to Darlene2007 Horizons

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Log Cabin by Jordan Harrison
Directed by Pam MacKinnon
Cast: Phillip James Brannon (Chris), Cindy Cheung (Pam), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Ezra), Ian Harvie (Henry), Talene Monahon (Myna),Dolly Wells (Jules)
Scenic design by Allen Moyer
Costume design by Jessica Pabst
Lighting design by Russell H. Champa
Sound design by Leah Gelpe
Production Stage Manager: Amanda Spooner
Running time: 90 minutes without an intermission.
Playwrights Horizon's Mainstage Theater 416 West 42nd Street
Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7PM, Thursdays and Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8PM and Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 PM.
From 6/01/18; opening 6/25/18; closing 7/15/18.
Reviewed by Simon Saltzman a 8/24 press preview

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