Review: Maybe, Probably, Old Red Lion

Eric Henry Sanders’ Maybe, Probably at the Old Red Lion Theatre is a snappily written and sharply observed look at the ways in which trying to and getting pregnant can upend your life 

“It’s what people do – they grow up, they have children”

Kate and Guy have been married for 12 years and love their New York City life. But after a visit to old friends who have just become parents and a winning bet on a horse called Babyface, Kate’s biological clock is triggered and they decide to start trying to have a baby. A couple of months later and there’s a second line on the pregnancy test but it is soon apparent that the couple really haven’t gotten their head around what this really means for their lives. Maybe, Probably then follows their next nine months as they try to mentally prepare for any and every situation.

From philosophical arguments about the environmental impact of having a child to the practical considerations of diving into a life of missing binkies, pungent nappies and drinking wine from a sippy cup, Sanders’ writing is beautifully observed. Light-hearted in its nature perhaps – there’s many a sitcom-worthy quip in here – it also speaks to the profound nature of tackling parenthood, particularly for those closer to 40 than 30. And across its four characters, it finds an admirable evenhandedness as it tackles thornier subjects like parental leave, fertility problems and amnio tests.

Lydia Parker’s production soars with its casting. Cory English and Christy Meyer as Guy and Kate have the kind of chemistry that is gorgeous to behold, full of dry quips and genuine affection and shimmering with emotional truth. Lance C Fuller and Maria Teresa Creasey as Hugh and Zoey contrast well as a couple and offer respective soundboards to their pals. Meyer and Creasey excel in sketching the complexities of being entirely honest about so sensitive a subject. And English and Fuller present touchingly honest conversations we don’t often see from straight male characters, especially as Hugh is a content stay-at-home dad.

The only downside – and a small one at that – comes in overly fussy scene changes. Stella Backman’s set and costume design necessitates multiple changes which play out in the gloom with ambient noise and consequently saps the energy, which the actors have to work hard to quickly regain. It’s frustrating because for the most part, it is a level of detail which is scarcely needed – I don’t think anyone is paying attention to which cushions are on the sofa or what tshirt is being worn – when the writing is this good and the acting is this effective. 

Running time: 75 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Rah Petherbridge Photography
Maybe, Probably is booking at the Old Red Lion until 15th October

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