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New Family, Old Problems 

Wednesday, Mar 7 2012
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Scott Herman’s play Octopus’s Garden might not seem like typical PianoFight fare. It’s not sketch comedy, it’s not an interactive choose-your-own-adventure, and it does not invite audiences to throw vegetables at the actors. But for artistic director Rob Ready, this world-premiere drama is every bit as vital as the company’s comedic projects. It’s about lesbian couple Lilly (Gabrielle Patacsil) and Claire (Leah Shesky), and their daughter Anna (the 12-year-old Nandi Drayton). But it’s not about making a case for same-sex marriage, or for the rights of same-sex couples to adopt kids. Instead, progressive stances on those issues are taken for granted, and the play shows the family living its life -- at least until Grant (Andy Strong), Anna’s long-lost, gay biological father shows up. The play, told in reverse chronology, addresses ambiguities and quagmires much more subtle -- but no less human -- than basic civil rights. Grant, for example, has never met his daughter, and in the first act we don’t know how or why she was conceived. For Ready and director Devin McNulty, there isn’t enough theater out there that examines nontraditional families in a genuine, straightforward way. Now that PianoFight has been around for four years, says McNulty, “We wanted to take on this bigger issue that we can’t necessarily address in a three- or four-minute sketch.”
Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: March 17. Continues through April 7, 2012

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Lily Janiak

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