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On April 29, Free Association Theatre Ensemble (FATE) opened its self-cultivated work, Oh Baby! A Cycle of Fertility Plays, written by upcoming playwright Debbie Barrett. Originally a three-minute scene submitted for a playwriting competition, Barrett's work evolved into eight short plays dealing with a spectrum of pregnancy stories. Relationships between infertile women, adoptive parents, single mothers, sperm donors, and married couples trying to conceive are all represented in this comprehensive work. Presented in FATE's found space in Cary, the typical minimalist set of black drops and a white picket fence forced the focus on the actors as long as the low-key technical elements ran smoothly. While this was not always the case, the actors did a fine job on the whole of carrying the weight of the performance with their embodiments of the characters set out for them in Barrett's work.
Wyatt Geist and Sheryl Scott perform exceptional work as a single adoptive father and a young mother entering into an open adoption. Geist's tender work endears the audience to him while Scott provides a very truthful glimpse into the challenging relationship between a mother and the child she gives away. The same can be said of Jessica Kent in her portrayal of a woman who cannot conceive and her journey to acceptance. Noelle Barnard and Jim Azarelo offer an interesting twist to the ideal expecting couple, while Matt Gromlich and Joanna Herath offer a lighthearted look at in-vitro fertilization. While the inclusion of a drag queen show seemed slightly out of place and almost stilted for the sole purpose of comic relief, Stacie Whitley held her own with grace as a drag queen, although she is already, in fact, a woman.
Aside from a lag in pace at times and the financial necessity for the company to provide a starkly minimalist design concept, FATE presented a just, comprehensive look at the lives of families from all walks of life. The show continues its run from May 5 through 7 at 8:00 p.m. For details, see the sidebar.