By Jay Handelman , Theatre &Television Critic Saturday, June 13, 2015
As you enter the Urbanite Theatre for Zayd Dohrn’s dark comedy “Reborning,” your eyes are immediately drawn to an assortment of baby doll body parts. Different heads, some decorated, others not, fill a rack of shelves, and there are baskets of dismembered arms, legs and torsos.
Designed by Rick Cannon, this apartment/workshop for a young woman named Kelly, stirs an initially discomforting sight, but it puts you in the right, slightly awkward and anticipatory mood for a play that is by turns odd, refreshing, funny and touching.
It is a play about rebirth, in a sense, for two people who can’t let go of the past. Kelly, who creates life-like baby dolls for grieving parents who lost their own infants, comes from a troubled background that is gradually revealed through the course of the quick-moving 80 minutes.
She lives with her boyfriend Daizy, who has the unusual career of making silicone sex toys. He is eager to start a family of his own, but Kelly isn’t so sure considering her past and all those babydoll bodies around.
Her tormented past comes to the fore while she deals with one of her new clients, a busy attorney named Emily who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her doll, Eva. Emily is demanding about the smallest details, which triggers something in the perfectionist Kelly to get it right, and to wonder why she and Emily seem to have some strange connection, or why the attorney wants to get to know her better.
As unusual as it may be, it’s an often moving, human story as Dohrn spirals into the heart of the problems the three characters face. He teases us one way and then leads us another toward a mostly satisfying, but hardly inevitable conclusion.
The three-member cast makes believe their characters and understand their reasoning and motivation in Brendon Fox’s production.
Megan Rippey is an adorable mess as Kelly, who can’t take her mind away from her work long enough to enjoy her relationship with Daizy, a funny and free-spirited caring clown played with verve by Urbanite co-founder Brendan Ragan.
Natalie Symons looks a bit young to be playing Emily as she is described, but she is touching a woman who is clearly working hard to hold herself together while walking the same kind of emotional tightrope as Kelly.
Together, the three actors draw you into their characters’ lives and make you care and ponder about the lengths some people will go to recapture something lost.