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STAGE REVIEW : Pitter-Patter of ‘Little Footsteps’ Sounds More Like a Whine

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Whiner, stars of “thirty nothing.”

He’s in advertising--writing sports promos for a television network. She stays home--when she isn’t doing assistant volunteer service at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (while hoping to move up to full volunteer status).

They’re going to have a baby, and are they bummed out about it.

Why?

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Well, six months into the pregnancy, it seems they’ve just realized the baby is going to wet its diaper sometimes. And--is your heart breaking yet?--the wife expects the husband to help her paint the baby’s room-to-be!

That, in fact, is what breaks this sorry couple up in “Little Footsteps,” a travesty by Ted Tally now wetting its own diaper on the stage of the North Coast Repertory Theatre.

The worst part, however, isn’t that this couple breaks up--that’s a relief--but that they get back together for more whining, accompanied by the shrill-voiced chorus of the wife’s parents in the second act.

Yes, folks, they are going to stay together for the sake of the baby because, as husband Ben says, the baby “deserves better” than to be brought up with one parent.

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The baby, a cute little tyke played by Christopher Bolles on Friday night, does deserve better than being brought up by either one of these characters, much less a double whammy.

“Little Footsteps” might not be so bad if that’s all it was. But it is also so offensive that it’s depressing.

Forget the insensitive way the playwright treats the interfaith marriage--selfish, vulgar Jewish male marries sweet, incompetent Episcopalian girl.

Forget the inept way he handles the issue of divorced parents, as if people should stay in bad marriages for the sake of the children. Forget the play’s specious premise that an emotional narcissist like the father and an emotional vacuum like the mother are suddenly going to bloom into great parents simply because they looked at a cute baby face.

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The show is also a criminal waste of acting, directing and designing talent at a theater that usually knows better. No names are necessary. The guilty know who they are.

Maybe we are helpless against the flood of yuppie angst now pouring into our theaters, movies and television screens. But we can demand some standards from the sad tales of how the young, well-educated and well-to-do cope with the same trials of relationships, work and child rearing that the poor routinely face without the benefit of fanfare or public sympathy.

The movies “Baby Boom” and “Three Men and a Baby” at least tackled their situations with humor; television’s “thirtysomething” often provides insights with clever self-deprecation. “Little Footsteps” is an emetic without the barf bag.

Why Dori Salois, who produced as well as stars in it, was so in love with this property can go down with the Bermuda Triangle as one of the great mysteries of life.

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In one of the few good lines in the play, the husband refers to parenthood as “the unprepared undertaking the impossible for the sake of the ungrateful.”

Only, as usual in this play, he misses the point. It isn’t the parents undertaking the impossible for the sake of the ungrateful here. It’s the baby.

The fact that the kid doesn’t cry in the end is a testimony to his innocence.

“LITTLE FOOTSTEPS”

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By Ted Tally. Director is Ginny-Lynn Safford. Sets by Paul Bedington. Lighting by Ocie Robinson. Costumes by Eileen Keyes. Sound by Burnham Joiner. With Steve Itkin, Dori Salois, Saundra Dubow and Jim Morley. At 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 19. At 987-D Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach.


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