Everyone says that your life changes when you have kids, and DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA takes those changes to heart, examining the many ways that children and parenthood impact not only the individual but the marriage. In a refreshing look at contemporary parenthood, DANNYKRISSDONNAVERONICA delves into the tensions, marriages, and parenting styles of two couples whose kids seem to have taken over their lives.
The play begins, in a hilarious move, with the four parents tossing crates of toys across the stage, setting the scene for their respective toddler-filled homes, and the chaotic skill of the play only gets better from there. Danny (Ben Mehl) and Kris (Suzy Jane Hunt), both stay-at-home parents, become friends when they meet at the park where they both take their kids. As their friendship becomes closer, the cracks in their respective marriages begin to show. Danny resents his wife Donna (Rachel Mewbron) for her successful career, since he had to give up his dreams of playing music to commit to stay-at-home fatherhood. When Donna tells him that she’s up for a big promotion at work, one that might involve a lot of travel, Danny can’t help but let that resentment show. Meanwhile, Kris and her wife Veronica (Liz Wisan) find themselves facing financial struggles, as Kris left her nursing job because of an incident that she’s struggling to deal with. The two couples are brought together when one of the kids is injured at the park, bringing the tensions between each couple to a head.
Playwright Lawrence Dial’s look at the joys and struggles of modern parenthood is brilliant, funny, and touching in its insightful look at two marriages, each impacted by new parenthood in different ways. Helmed by nuanced characters, each dealing with the struggles of being a new parent differently, the play addresses the oft-discussed issue of parenthood in a fresh, offbeat way that recaptures the topic with its mix of humor and melancholy.
Directed by Jeff Wise, the performances bring those characters to life with remarkable skill. Suzy Jane Hunt poignantly portrays the struggling Kris’ emotional journey through motherhood, and her chemistry with Ben Mehl, who plays the frazzled Danny, makes for an excellent dynamic at the center of the play. Suzy Jane Hunt and Liz Wisan, as the two working spouses in each marriage, play off each other wonderfully as they capture the difficulty of working and parenting simultaneously. These excellent performances brought out the beauty of the story, delivering a moving tribute to parenthood.