Parenting seems to be a competitive sport these days. With everyone from well-meaning neighbors to the national media chiming in on what parents are doing wrong and how they are going to ruin their children’s lives next. Free Range, a comedy by Jeff Reiser and performed by Avoidance Theatre Group, delves into this sticky subject with great humor.
Jen (Chinwe Nwosu) is a stereotypical helicopter mom who is struggling to loosen her grip on her children’s lives. She meets Jen and Dave (Justine Hipsky and Derek Hayes) at a local park and they invite her to the next meeting of the Free Range of Greater Washington parenting group. Free Range, they explain, is a parenting philosophy that allows children room to play and explore on their own, and encourages parents to let go of their fear. Easier said than done…
Jen’s meeting draws a peculiar assortment of characters including a hipster co-parent who hates rules, a chicken farmer, and Brenda (Kristen Ruga), a woman in a bear suit. Needless to say, the meeting does not go as planned. Hipsky and Hayes carry the show with confidence and excellent timing, accompanied by knee-slapping performances from Nwosu and Ruga.
Each scene tackles a different thread in the tangled web of parenthood, satirizing everything from anti-vaxxers to honor student bumper stickers. With a cast of seasoned improvisers in their first scripted show, the dialogue had a flowing, improvisational quality, and while not all jokes quite managed to land, there were plenty of chuckles to be had.
Today’s parents will get a kick out of Free Range. They may even recognize some super-parents they know, or – God forbid – themselves!!
Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.