THE APPOINTMENT is Begging You to Laugh — Review
It’s the circle of life. Some things just come to a natural end and there’s nothing to be done to change it. No, I’m not talking about reproduction, birth, or abortion…I’m talking about a hit play from a few years ago, that now revived in 2023 is anything but.
The Appointment provides a few laughs and a heavy dose of schtick, but fails to actually do the key element of art, or theatre, or whatever: it never says anything. I can imagine that in 2019, this may have pushed a few more boundaries, but the collective consciousness has shifted since then. It is no longer “edgy” or “cool” to just “have a show about abortion” because that’s what everyone seems to be talking about. Moreso, the fight for abortion access and reproductive rights has become more essential than ever.
Unfortunately, adult actors dressed as shrieking fetuses, larger-than-life metal probes (dare I say coat hangers here?), and audience participation questioning the involvement of a “daddy,” provide viewers with more of a headache than a question or perspective to ponder as they walk away from the Upper West Side theatre. Lightning Rod Special, an ensemble with a stated goal to “explode complex and controversial questions with precision and play” has indeed played…something.
Group numbers pause, staring into the audience looking for laughter from a crowd more confused than anything. Performers giggle, knowing that they’ve just delivered a punch line and this one is sure to get you! More than any other tool employed, performers stand and stare in complete silence. Are they conjuring a tired metaphor for the amount of time a pregnant person must wait for an abortion depending on their state? Are they channeling an acting exercise from a BFA program that promotes freeing the inner voice and airing personal trauma to a room full of undergrads? The 90-minute musical adventure is a cobbled variety show with little throughline and just enough curiosity for you to ask “why am I still watching an actor posed on a table as a fetus dressed as a turkey?”
Perhaps I’m from a generation fully comfortable with a conversation surrounding reproductive rights. I’m from the media sphere responsible for solo shows about the abortion process, Netflix scenes that invoke shockingly profound conversations, and podcasts that connect TikTok trends to systemic racism in labor and delivery healthcare. Forgive me if I’m not enthused by a collection of personified fetuses dancing above the actual issue, somehow clouding the conversation against “life begins at conception” arguments with its too avant avant-garde.
It’s 2023 and a portion of the U.S. is represented by elected officials more delusional than ever, with people turning to their social media of choice, using it as a search engine, a therapist, a doctor, etc. At the risk of being a buzzkill, I have to think anything other than straightforward truths and information can be dangerously misconstrued in arguments of life or death. I would rather have a truthful discussion about a person’s autonomy, the science involved in safe abortion procedures, and the political divisiveness of states that refuse access to lifesaving healthcare, than, you know, a funny song from the perspective of a fetus.
Lightning Rod Special’s The Appointment is now playing at WP Theater through February 4. For more information and tickets, click here.