First produced in 1988, Robert More’s play Dads in Bondage, with music by Thomas Doyle, is currently being developed as an one-act for Lunchbox Theatre’s 2014/2015 season. As part of the Suncor Energy Stage One Festival of New Canadian Work, the public was invited to the Lunchbox Theatre to attend a public reading of More’s hilarious comedy about three career men whose lives are flipped upside down when they become stay-at-home dads.
Unlike typical stage productions, play readings do not (usually) feature the use of props or choreography on stage. The focus of the event, instead, is to allow a playwright to hear their work-in-progress live in front of an audience. (Here, the play reading was four actors with their scripts on music stands and Doyle accompanying them on piano). Additionally, after the reading, the audience is invited to make comments and ask the playwright questions. Based off the audience’s reactions and feedback, the playwright gains a better sense of what needs to be cut or added when they later revisit their script.
Dads in Bondage is about three men – Charles, Joey, and Kirk – who are each comfortable in their respective careers and lifestyles, that it is until the arrival of their newborn children brings more than they bargained for. When they are each let go from work, the excitement of fatherhood becomes short-lived. Once a man of the world and finer tastes, Charles is now trapped at home with his daughter. Joey, a neurotic school teacher, cannot keep up with (or tell a part) twins Virgil and Horace. And, Kirk can never seem to find enough time away from household chores to hit the gym. With their partners away at work, the men struggle not only with their parenting duties, but also their identities as men.
At the time of its original production, the play and its themes, More told the audience during the Q & A session, was “revolutionary,” a statement older member of the audiences nodded in agreement with. While the number of stay-at-home dads are double what they in the 1980’s due in part to the 2008 recession*, More’s play does not feel outdated. What makes the script feel contemporary is its self-awareness and, accordingly, ability to parody, with humorous results, the gender stereotypes present in the play.
As a result, Dads in Bondage features very funny dialogue and character moments. The humour of the play is supported well by Doyle’s musical work. Doyle’s compositions not only sound great, but they also suit each man’s respective character. Charles, someone of status, has a distinct musical style compared to Joey whose own style is reflective of his anxious character. This attention to character in the score is impressive. Overall, Doyle’s score is delightful.
With its smart dialogue, animated characters and vibrant musical score, More’s Dads in Bondage is set to be a hit with audiences when it arrives at Lunchbox Theatre as part of the company’s 40th season.
Dads in Bondage will run at Lunchbox Theatre from April 27-May 16, 2015.
For more information about the company’s 2014/2015 season, visit http//lunchboxtheatre.com/
The Suncor Energy Stage One Festival of New Canadian Work ran from June 13-28, 2014 at Lunchbox Theatre. The public reading of Dads in Bondage was held on June 27th, 2014.
Robert More – Playwright
Tom Doyle – Composer
Glenda Stirling – Director/Dramaturg
Vanessa Sabourin – The Woman
Scott Shipley – Kirk
JP Thibodeau – Joey
Kevin Rothery – Charles
*Italie, Leanne. “Study: At-home dads down slightly since recession.” Yahoo! News, 5 June 2014. Web. 27 June 2014.