Happily After Ever, now playing at 59E59 Theaters, is a story about the newly married Darren (Jeffrey Bryan Adams) and Janet (Molly-Ann Nordin) who desperately desire to build the fairytale life together; but when their first child is born with both male and female genitalia, they are thrown into the difficult world of having to decide on a gender for their child. Add to this their constant competition with the perfect couple next door, Dharma (Marlon Meikle) and Jerry (Brennan Lowery), and even their dog, Tommy (Tim Anderson), an interesting character himself, and you have an incredibly entertaining night of theater that takes a satirical look at the ways we think about gender..
These relatable characters are moved along at just the right pace by playwright Laura Zlatos to keep us enthralled throughout. Important questions about the gender binary are handled with intelligence and thoughtfulness, cleverly presented in a fast-paced, witty, '50s style sitcom scenario. This quirky take on the TV families of the era is reflected both in the costumes and movements of the characters, who often resemble moving paper dolls. Yet the stylization of this production does not take over entirely; quiet and poignant moments enrapture and engage us. Director Sherri Eden Barber has handled her perfectly cast actors with such a creative and unique touch that I had moments of feeling like Woody Allen and Guy Ritchie had given birth to a slick, punchy, well-edited, unconventional film that I was now experiencing in real life.
The flawless cast are adept at handling their choreographed moments for comical purposes that never floundered into overacting; there was beautiful underplaying without ever losing the energy or pace or comedic timing, which was spot on every time. Each actor was able to go from comedy to serious and sincere in a very short space of time, executing the punchy and fast-paced dialogue to perfection. I found myself unable to take my eyes off Molly-Ann Nordin as Janet, in particular. Her innate sense of her own physicality was admirable. Marlon Meikle, a performance artist and drag queen, was a wonderful choice to play Dharma, the wife of Jerry, giving us more meat for the gender binary issue at hand.
Happily After Ever brings you into the confused inner psyche of its characters, then throws you quickly back into realism, keeping you beguiled from beginning to end. Without ever straying from the very real and difficult decisions parents must face with the birth of an intersex child, the play itself is entertaining on every level, never becoming bogged down by the politics surrounding its theme.