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Geffen Playhouse presents “Tiny Father” – reviewed

Tiny Father, written by Mike Lew, feels like one of those plays based on real events that the playwright feels compelled to illuminate. The story begins in a low-lit but sterile-looking hospital room. A man is nervously hovering in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), peering at a tiny newborn baby that, we learn, was born prematurely. Maurice Williams plays Daniel.

Above photo – L-R: Tiffany Villarin and Maurice Williams in tiny father at Geffen Playhouse. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

A projection of the timeline (Day One, Day 18 etc.) is shown to indicate the passage of time while the set swiftly revolves and some of the pieces are repositioned (a comfy, reclining chair is added early on to indicate the new Dad is sleeping by the baby’s side).

Unfortunately the play’s dialogue, for the most part, does not feel natural—rather, instructional. It precisely charts the emotional journey of the Dad, from being (somewhat) blind-sided by learning about his casual partner’s pregnancy to being precipitated into parenthood of a newly-born preemie (whose mother is also in intensive care) to becoming the sole parent of a tiny baby struggling to survive.

Eventually we, as well as Daniel, learn that he’s this baby’s only hope for the future. It’s a lot for our character to grapple with, and to be fair, Lew does a good job of tracing that poignant journey over the course of this 90-minute one-act play, with its numerous brisk, brief scenes.

This play has only two characters – Daniel and the nurse, Caroline, played with genuine empathy by Tiffany Villarin. Other nurses are referred to but never seen.

Lew balances Daniel’s dilemma and personal growth with insights into Caroline—the baby’s primary night nurse—and her own personal journey. We learn that Caroline’s nighttime working schedule conflicts with her homelife – she herself is a new Mom, who feels she is missing out on most of her second child’s early development while she cares for other people’s fragile infants.

At times emotionally fraught, also infused with flashes of humor and depth, Tiny Father is a slight play that is nevertheless well-produced.

When a “friends with benefits” relationship unexpectedly results in the early arrival of a baby girl, Daniel (Maurice Williams) must choose between being a biological parent or becoming a father. With the help of Caroline (Tiffany Villarin), a no-nonsense night nurse, the new dad learns to navigate the protocols and frustrations of NICU life on his uncertain path to parenthood.

L-R: Maurice Williams and Tiffany Villarin in tiny father at Geffen Playhouse. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Photo by Justin Bettman.
TINY FATHER
Gil Cates Theater at Geffen Playhouse

10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Written by Mike Lew

Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel

Tiffany Villarin as Caroline

Maurice Williams as Daniel

Scenic Designer by David Meyer

Costume Designer by Tilly Grimes

Lighting Designer by Pablo Santiago

Sound Design & Original Music by UptownWorks—Noel Nichols, Bailey Trierweiler & Daniela Hart

Associate Director Rosalind Bevan

Production Stage Manager Darlene Miyakawa

Assistant Stage Manager Lauren Buangan

Casting Director Phyllis Schuringa, CSA

Runs through July 14, 2024

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:

Monday, Tuesday No performance

Wednesday – Friday 8:00 p.m.

Saturday 3:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.

RUNTIME: 90 minutes, no intermission

Content Advisory: This production contains profanity.

Age Recommendation: 12+

All Geffen Playhouse productions are intended for an adult audience; children under 10 years of age will not be admitted.

Although not required, we encourage masks for audience members for the health and well-being of our artist(s).

TICKET INFORMATION:

Tickets currently priced at $39.00 – $129.00. Available by phone at 310.208.2028 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org. Fees may apply.

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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