Baby Eva, Lorri Holt, Lauren English and Alexander Alioto in reBorning at SF Playhouse.

REBORNING by Zayd Dohrn. Directed by Josh Costello. The SF Plahouse, 533 Sutter Street (one block off Union Square, b/n Powell & Mason), San Francisco, CA 94102. 415.677.9596 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 415.677.9596 end_of_the_skype_highlightingor

May 3 –June11, 2011.

REBORNING at SF Playhouse receives standing ovation.

SF Playhouse has again burnished its image as the risk-taking leader in the Bay Area producing innovative drama with the world premiere of reBorning by award winning play and screenwriter Zayd Dohrn. When you add a superlative cast (alphabetically) of Alexander Alioto, Lauren English and Lorri Holt interacting with precision timing there is no wonder that opening night of this world premiere received a spontaneous standing ovation. This time around, Bill English has relinquished his stage designing duties to Nina Ball who has created another memorable set using every available nook and cranny of the small stage. This gives director Josh Costello ample room to move the actors like chess pieces leading to a climactic “Check Mate” with each character being a winner at the end of their tense, absorbing 75 minutes upon the stage.

A fourth character is a “reborning” doll named Eva, the stimulus creating suspense and conflict that drives the characters. Early in their relationship, artists, roommates and lovers Kelly (Lauren English) and Daizy ( Alexander Alioto) worked together creating designer dildos. Kelly has advanced to becoming a much sought after designer and creator of custom-made life-like baby dolls to fill the need for those lost souls who have an almost pathologic need for such dolls. Psychiatrically injured and postmenopausal Emily who has lost a baby about 25 years ago has hired Kelly to create a replica of her deceased infant daughter. Emily’s compulsive need for authenticity leads to multiple visits to the studio, each time requesting more accurate rendition of the doll. During these visits, Emily and Kelly, to Daizy’s dismay, form a strange bond laced with antipathy.

In between smoking her cannabis cigarettes, Kelly, who is under treatment for depression, pops her Zoloft anti-depressant pills with alcohol. Her screwed up life involves being discarded in a dumpster as an infant with her fingerprints removed by acid leaving her with no sense of touch. Fortunately, she was rescued and adopted by a caring couple but the thoughts of her rejection as an infant have left indelible scars on her psyche.

Be assured that from a medical standpoint, the combination of drugs used by Kelly will and does fry her brain to the point she believes Emily is the mother who abandoned her and in her mind, the baby-doll Eva comes alive. Visual effects projected on a large rear stage screen add emphasis to her delusional state. In the midst of this turmoil is levelheaded, extremely supportive, Daizy who is anxious be become a father in contrast to Kelly who does not think she would be a good mother.

Lorri Holt and Lauren English are pitch perfect in their interpretation of the characters but it is Alexander Alioto who captures the audience with the concern, passion and sensitivity he imbues in his role. The comments written for him are necessary to bring the touch of humor needed to break the tension of generated by the two women. This is a must see play for Bay Area theatre goers.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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