Theater review: 'Cradle and All,' 3 stars
Cradle and All
To have a child or not to have a child? That is the question. Or at least it's the one posed in Daniel Goldfarb's enjoyable comedy "Cradle and All," which compares the lives of a childless couple and one with a new baby. They live across the hall from each other and are played by the same actors.
Act 1 is set in the immaculate apartment of Claire (Maria Dizzia), an out-of-work actress who once co-starred in a flop Keanu Reaves film, and her boyfriend Luke (Greg Keller), a bored art dealer.
Five years into their relationship, Claire confronts Luke with her sudden desire to have a baby. She explains how she feels unfulfilled and even confesses to looking at baby clothes online.
Luke is not thrilled by the idea, noting that he can't stand the crying baby in the nearby apartment. "Brooklyn Heights is becoming an Upper West Side before our very eyes," he moans.
In Act 2, Dizzia and Keller play Annie and Nate, the nearby married couple with the 11-month-old child. The set is flipped to display an identical apartment that is buried in toys.
Annie, who admits to playing bad cop, tries to ignore young Olivia as she cries, much to the concern of her husband. It is eventually revealed that they are having marital difficulties and have not had sex in a long time.
Act 2 is longer, funnier and far more enjoyable than Act 1, which might be considered a sort of prelude. But taken together, Goldfarb's play effectively compares life with and without children, leaving audience members to decide which situation they'd prefer.
Dizzia and Keller have terrific chemistry and play well off each other in Sam Buntrock's fine production, which emphasizes both physical comedy and emotional fragility.
If you go: "Cradle and All" plays at City Center through June 19. 131 W. 55th St., 212-581-1212, manhattantheatreclub.com.