News Ticker

The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains

Fascinating grouping of five short, shocking tales about babies told by two consummate storytellers. 

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Hanna Cheek and Clay McLeod Chapman as they appear in “The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains” (Photo credit: KL Thomas)

Hanna Cheek and Clay McLeod Chapman as they appear in “The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains” (Photo credit: KL Thomas)

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

 The annual The Pumpkin Pie Show is back for its 17th year. Performed with no sets and no costumes, it has been described as “bedtime stories for adults.” Usually presented around Halloween (hence the pumpkin), this year the show has a run from September 24 to October 10. The reason is simply that creator, storyteller and writer Clay McLeod Chapman is about to become a father. The due date for his baby boy is October 31. As result Chapman’s scary and engrossing evening this year is called “Labor Pains” and includes five tales about babies from birth to childhood. Parenting has never been dissected so closely or seemed so chilling.

Chapman is joined by brilliantly animated actress Hanna Cheek who has been associated with The Pumpkin Pie Show since 2001. Cheek doesn’t just tell her three stories, she acts them out creating fully developed characters along the way. The first story, “Labor Pains,” is Cheek’s. A woman about to give birth to a very big baby boy has to tell her husband that the child isn’t his: she became pregnant on a camping trip and she isn’t quite sure what the child will be. In “Diaper Genie,” told by Chapman, a new father discovers that there are runic messages in his daughter’s stool, but his wife becomes suspicious when he acts on the prophecies.

Hanna Cheek and Clay McLeod Chapman as they appear in “The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains” (Photo credit: KL Thomas)

Hanna Cheek and Clay McLeod Chapman as they appear in “The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains” (Photo credit: KL Thomas)

Cheek returns in “Pick of the Litter” as a mother at the playground who takes advantage of the fact that most children are left unattended by parents and nannies who pay little attention, a story with a cautionary warning. Chapman tells “That Family,” a story set on an airplane. A man and his wife Mira are traveling to Italy with their nine-month-old baby Shelly who sleeps perfectly through the first hour until the stewardess’ cart wakes her up and all hell breaks loose. The final story, “Mama Bird,” told by Cheek is the most bizarre. When a mother discovers her underweight toddler daughter eating an appropriate food, the only solution is to do what mother birds do. The shocking ending is both startling and unforeseen.

While Chapman is a commanding storyteller, Cheek, who has a great many theatre credits, is a consummate actress. Running through the gamut of emotions, she creates each of her different off-kilter mothers in three dimensions. All of the O’Henry endings land as a big surprise, just as they are intended to. The no sets and no costumes force us to listen carefully and Chapman’s stories are so well written that we hang on every word. The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains is a diverting, unusual evening with many bizarre pleasures. Each contains a scare that sneaks up on you, worthy of Halloween that is to come. This is storytelling of the highest caliber as well as offering a unique view of the world.

The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains (through October 10, 2015)

Frigid New York@ Horse Trade

UNDER St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place, between First Avenue and Avenue A, in Manhattan

For tickets, visit http://www.horseTRADE.info

Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (611 Articles)
Victor Gluck was a drama critic and arts journalist with Back Stage from 1980 – 2006. He started reviewing for TheaterScene.net in 2006, where he was also Associate Editor from 2011-2013, and has been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. He is a voting member of The Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, the American Theatre Critics Association, and the Dramatists Guild of America. His plays have been performed at the Quaigh Theatre, Ryan Repertory Company, St. Clements Church, Nuyorican Poets Café and The Gene Frankel Playwrights/Directors Lab.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.