“Peter’s peter petered out,” so jokes the character of Mira Gray at her teenage son’s (Peter) inability to sexually perform on his 18th birthday, the big day he has chosen to lose his virginity with his new, biker chick girlfriend, Paige (Zandi Carlson). And unfortunately, as with Peter’s less-than stellar performance, so it goes with this production of Christi Stewart-Brown’s 1996 “family comedy,” The Gene Pool, now playing at Seattle’s Annex Theatre on Capitol Hill.
It’s not that the acting is bad per se, or that the direction is necessarily off the mark, although there are some really cheesy pantomimed motorcycle rides that could be reworked. It’s rather that the material that the Arouet Company has chosen to produce is simply not that funny or profound. It plays like a 1990s TV sit-com, complete with two-dimensional characters and improbable situations shrouded in trite and clichéd humor.
The play revolves around the lives of a married lesbian couple, Mira and Claire Gray, played by Amelia Meckler and Colleen Carey, and their son Peter, played by Kyle Johnson. Peter was the product of an anonymous sperm donor (played by Bruce Erickson) and in vitro-fertilization. For the first 18 years of his life, he had never really thought about his origins: who his father was; which of his mothers was his biological one, etc. But when his girlfriend, Paige, enters the scene, suddenly it becomes a big deal. Of course, this issue isn’t really dealt with in the play until the 2nd act, and involves a kidnapping and a horse tranquilizer.
And this is just one of the problems with Stewart-Brown’s not-so-funny comedy. Add in lesbian bed-death jokes, insatiable teenage boy appetites, an affair, lots of dead horses, a box of condoms, and some zucchini, and you have the ingredients for a couple of hours of light fare comedy, easy enough to scarf down quickly, but leaving you unsatisfied, and wishing you had gone for some havarti instead of cheese in a can.
The Gene Pool plays June 3-19 at the Annex Theatre, 1100 E. Pike St. Capitol Hill, Seattle General admission is $12-$18. (206) 728-0933, annex.org It is directed by Roy Arauz.