Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Also see Richard's review of The House of Yes
The time is the present, the age of same-sex marriage and gay adoption. Dean (Sam Bertken) and Mikey (Ryan Hayes) are about to adopt a baby, but Dean has doubts that gnaw at him. Besides that, their two hamsters Jason (Neil Higgins) and Tyson (Nikki Meñez) are about to have nine babies. Until recently Dean and Mikey thought the hamsters were male. Now Tyson has fears that nibble at her.
Dean has a fixation with the two male hamsters, staring at them in their cage, and he has grave doubts about being a father to child and who he would save in a fire, the baby or his lover. Both query their affection of each other. The play flip-flops back and forth between the two storylines. This is beautifully staged by first-time director Adam Odsess-Rubin.
Sam Bertken and Ryan Hayes skillfully play the gay couple. They banter with each other dexterously and Sam Bertken is outstanding when he rails against Neil Patrick Harris as the perfect gay dad when brought up by Mikey and when he entertains a trick who is a "toe queen," played splendidly by Neil Higgins. Nikki Meñez and Neil Higgins who play the hamsters are a hoot, especially Neil. He beautifully goes overboard with his high falsetto voice and sort of plays it as a totally gay effeminate queen. Nikki Meñez aggressively plays the opposite in a butch fashion.
Director Odsess-Rubin gives sharpness to the 90-minute no-intermission farce, and the smooth change from hamsters to humans is faultlessly staged. Set design by Max Chanowitz and props designer Hannah Barnard-Henke for this intimate theatre are awesome. They provide unlimited hamster fun, including a huge hamster wheel located on the wall of the stage and a large water bottle for the hamsters to drink from. Wes Crain has designed the cute costumes for both hamsters.
Bottom line: This is one of the cleverest plays I have seen in the long time. It was pure joy to see it.
Breeders runs through April 29, 2017, at PianoFight Club at 144 Taylor Street, San Francisco. For tickets and information, visit www.faultlinetheater.com. Coming up next at Faultline is Luna Malbroux and Jennifer Lewis's How to be a White Man starting May 16.