by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

They’re calling it a play. Let’s just say, ‘It’s a Harold.

Malibu Playhouse has just opened with an original production and West Coast premiere, Life Expectancy: A Comedy in Three Trimesters written by acclaimed playwright Catherine Butterfield, directed by Ron West.  It’s a hoot!

In the style of a Second City Long Form Improv (coincidentally one of West’s former directing homes) the play inventively takes the audience through the experiences of an over 40 couple having a baby. The whole process is an exciting and unnerving day-to-day emotional roller coaster ride where in addition, the mother-to-be has taken on a screenwriting project which plays hilariously in the background as counterpoint and commentary.

Narrated by the authors of a What to Expect book about pregnancy, this show takes on some very hilariously quirky moments and a few serious diversions during 9 months of fears, fantasies, nightmares and secrets of a couple who is technically too old to be pregnant in the first place.  So they’re told.

The writing is cheeky. The devices resourceful. The extra layer of the screenwriting project adds an amusing texture to the play. And all the characters are equally waggish. This extremely entertaining cast, including Butterfield as one of the narrators, throws down a tearfully funny story with one of the most absurd, gut-busting baby birth crescendos.

There are a few scenes where it would have served this production better with a slightly more populated set, one campy, glitzy, lighting showdown, an extra costume change and one less bit.  Overall though, it’s a delightfully real story and sweetly satisfying – sad, happy and surprising endings alike.

Featuring (in alphabetical order): Josh Banday, Catherine Butterfield, Tisha Terrasini-Banker, Derek Manson, Annie Rives and Kiff VandenHeuvel.

Photo (above): Josh Banday, Annie Rives, Tisha Terrasini Banker and Derek Manson in Life Expectancy: A Comedy in Three Trimesters