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Dada Woof Papa Hot

A witty, if limited, look at the trials and tribulations of gay marriage and parenthood.

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John Benjamin Hickey and Patrick Breen in a scene from “Dada Woof Papa Hot” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

John Benjamin Hickey and Patrick Breen in a scene from “Dada Woof Papa Hot” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

It was inevitable that legalized gay marriage would lead to plays about gay parenthood.  Dada Woof Papa Hot, Peter Parnell’s sweet-natured, but frustratingly narrow-focused, new play at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater explores the kind of child rearing issues formerly supposedly experienced only by straight couples, at least straight couples with large bank accounts.  To bring the theme of gay marriage further into the mainstream, divorce also rears its ugly head.

Dada deals with three couples.  Rob (Patrick Breen), a psychotherapist and Alan (John Benjamin Hickey), an artist, have been together the longest and have a daughter, Nicola (voiced by Tori Feinstein).  Their relationship and its ups and downs is the focal point of the play.  Alan’s best friend from schooldays is Michael (John Pankow), a very understanding straight guy, married to Serena (Kellie Overbey).  They have a child, too.  Michael is cheating on Serena with the passionate—and very loud—Julia (Tammy Blanchard), an actress, also married (to a possibly gay man) and a mother.  The third couple is the totally mismatched Scott (Stephen Plunkett), an uptight financial whiz and the much younger, hunky Jason (Alex Hurt), a painter on the brink of success, who just can’t keep it in his pants—much to the chagrin of Scott.

Tammy Blanchard and John Pankow in a scene from “Dada Woof Papa Hot” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Tammy Blanchard and John Pankow in a scene from “Dada Woof Papa Hot” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

As the play moves from one well-appointed room—including a “Scandinavian-style” kiddy den—to another and from a pastoral Central Park to posh restaurants with a worrisome stop at one of the least child-appropriate sites in the world, Fire Island Pines, the seven parents kvetch about nannies, getting into the right schools, their professional lives and react to the news of infidelities which rocks all three couples.  They worry about their professional lives, losing their looks, and about their children not loving them enough, or at all.  The specter of infidelity, inadvertent or otherwise, hangs over the proceedings, forcing the plot along.

The main problem with Dada Woof Papa Hot is that, despite the brilliant acting of all concerned and Parnell’s sharp ear for the language of each person, it’s difficult to empathize deeply with these characters, all of whom appear to be well off, well educated and by no means victims of circumstances.  They wanted to be married.  They wanted to have children and then complain endlessly about the vicissitudes of their actions.

Alex Hurt, John Benjamin Hickey, Stephen Plunkett and Patrick Breen in a scene from “Dada Woof Papa Hot” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Alex Hurt, John Benjamin Hickey, Stephen Plunkett and Patrick Breen in a scene from “Dada Woof Papa Hot” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

This admirable production—with slick sets by John Lee Beatty, perfect costumes by Jennifer von Mayrhauser and subtle lighting by Peter Kaczorowski—has many pleasures.  The attractive actors mine Parnell’s literate and witty dialogue for all its worth, to the great credit of their incisive and experienced director, Scott Ellis.

Dada Woof Papa Hot (through January 3, 2016)

Lincoln Center Theater

Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, 150 West 65th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit http://www.Telecharge.com

For more information: visit http://www.lct.org

Running time:  one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission

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Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (346 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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