Theatre Review: FORTUNE'S CHILD at Baltimore Theatre Project

Lynne Menefee, MD Theatre Guide, Published on January 13, 2015

Marianne Angelella as Susan, Travis Hudson as Dude, and Kathryn Zoerb as Sarah. Photo by Rich Riggins. Theatre Project begins the new year with Fortune’s Child, a new play written by local playwright Mark Scharf. It is being presented under the auspices of the Actor’s Equity Association Members Project Code (MPC) which means all company members act as the producers as well. This is not only a labor of love for the cast and director but a play about love, letting go and embracing life – especially if there may not be much of it left. Mike is an over-protective widower and father of 18-year-old Sarah. Years earlier, he lost his wife to cancer. His daughter is not exactly a wild child but still causes her father great concern – this time, by staying out all night. Sarah is a typical teenage girl, sometimes moody and frustrated with her father’s parental demands. “…Fortune’s Child, is a funny and bittersweet play with a big heart.” Sarah’s boyfriend, Brian, adores her and wants a serious commitment. Just as her father’s expectations, this feels stifling to Sarah who will be off to college in the fall. Mike is also dealing with the fact that his sister, Susan, is terminal. He worries and fusses over her in the same way he does his daughter. It’s hard to imagine that comedy can be found under the circumstances but Scharf has created a wonderful balance of humor to counterpoint the underlying sadness of the situation. Not having any children of her own, Susan decides to let loose and take her niece on a world adventure while she still has the time to enjoy it. The two “run away” leaving the boys to deal with not having them around. Brian starts showing up at Mike’s house like a lost puppy. Through a series of sweet and funny scenes, the two start to form a friendship. The acting is excellent under the keen guidance of Yvonne Erickson. Marianne Gazzola Angelella brings the right mix of justifiable frustration, anger and joy to the character of Sarah. Lance Lewman as Mike (and a small bit as an Irish father) is endearing and very human. Travis Hudson and Kathryn Zoerb are young actors on the rise who have already displayed their talents in productions for CSC and Baltimore Shakespeare Factory. Hudson plays Brian (as well as a young Irishman and a surfer “Dude”) with great comic timing and sweetness. Kathryn Zoerb is pitch-perfect as Sarah, embodying the conflicts of a typical teenage girl on the verge of womanhood who is trying to find her own direction. The lighting and projection design by Terry Cobb and the wonderfully detailed sound design by Ann Warren create the scenes very effectively with the few set pieces and props. The audience is transported from a dining room or a rainy cemetery to the shores of Ireland, the Alps of New Zealand and a beach in Hawaii – and back again. While no great revelations or new territory are explored here, Fortune’s Child, is a funny and bittersweet play with a big heart. Running Time: Two hours including one 15-minute intermission. Fortune’s Child runs through Sunday, January 18, 2015, at the Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 Preston Street, Baltimore, MD.  For tickets, call the box office at 410-752-8558 or purchase online.