A PREGNANT PAUSE
REVIEW by INOLA McGUIRE
The American Theatre of Actors
314 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The performance that I saw is “A Pregnant Pause” written by Meny Beriro, directed by Laurie Rae Waugh, stage managed by Rachel Ladany; starring Calvin Knie, Carla Duval, Alan Charney, and Patrick Robert Kelly.
The audience sees a cozy apartment with a speechifying couple. The topic of discussion between studious Bob and nagging Susan is the murder of a wife by her husband. Susan discusses what she reads in the magazine to Bob from the sofa while he tries to study for his upcoming examination. Bob tries to cope with his studies at his desk. Susan wants to discuss with Bob the ramification of the murder in the family. She thinks about the welfare of the children through this tragedy! Bob wants to score a higher grade other than his 16 points out of 20 in his next examination. He wants to study his books without interruption by Susan! Susan needs his undivided attention, but Bob wants to smoke a cigarette and study. Susan objects to his smoking for she knows the dangers of second-hand smoke. He wants to consider buying a pack of cigarette just as a keep-sake gesture, for he visualizes the grim reaper coming his way not until 50 years from now.
The audience notices how Bob is oblivious to Susan’s need for his attention. He gets into World History as it is one of his best subjects. As an added bonus on murders to Susan, Bob makes reference to the French Revolution, and he also makes a comment about Cambodia and the Nazi. The audience realizes that Bob got his money’s worth in college in history. The Cambodian genocide happened between 1975 and 1979 in which approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives, and the Nazi regime carried out its reign of terror in Europe during World War II. Susan appears not to be too interested in Bob’s History lesson, and he is not too interested in catering to her histrionics. The telephone rings. It is Bob’s friend, Scott, on the line and he wants to visit. Bob tells him to come over, and Susan wants no part of that decision, but she spills the beans about her pregnancy. Susan tries to hold Bob over his shoulder.
Bob occupies his mind with Yacht racing, and he mentions Belgium as a competitor in the race. Bob and Susan’s conversation changes to Scott and his girlfriend, Stacey’s relationship. Susan continues to vie for Bob’s attention, and she tells him all about his lack of spending quality time with her. Susan is hell bent on having an abortion. She wants to visit her GYN’s office, and she paints a vivid picture to Bob about the impending medical procedure. Bob tries to second guest Susan’s pregnancy. He informs the audience that he was a careful participant in his love-making activities. He took a shower with a rain coat over his body, so he has doubts on his mind about Susan’s so-called pregnancy. She could have pricked the rain coat without his knowledge. Bob is book smart, but Susan is a practical person.
Susan is saved by the doorbell literally! There is someone at the door. Both of them, Bob and Susan, inquire at the door. Fred shows up outside the apartment. He wants to see Mrs. Ketchener. Susan gives him the third degree line of questioning. The audience empathizes with Bob for his politeness towards Fred. Fred tells Susan all about the Vice Presidents in American History, and he informs her that President John Tyler did not have a vice president. Fred’s History lesson in America’s politics peaks the audience’s interest to investigate and clarify this fact. President Tyler became the 10th president of the United States of America in April of 1841. He became President William Henry Harrison’s vice president in 1840, and after his sudden death, John Tyler was sworn into office as president.
Fred decides to introduce himself after his History lesson to Susan. He tells her that his name is Fred, but his friends call him Freddy. The audience observes Susan carefully, for she continues to be very indignant to Fred. Bob tells Fred to stay and he tries to learn from what Fred has to say about the changes in his life time. Fred shocks the audience by his comment. He says, “Young people don’t have respect.” Bob offers Fred coffee, and he accepts Bob’s hospitality if it was not too much trouble for him.
While Bob prepares the coffee in the kitchen, Susan and Fred continue to converse and she inquiries about his first meeting with Mrs. Ketchener. Fred refers to her as Emma, and he says that they met at his store. Fred reminisces about their encounter at his place of business where Emma purchased a bottle of perfume. Susan tries to challenge Fred as to why he did not give Mrs. Ketchener the bottle of perfume. Fred shares with Susan how Emma saw him as an individual. He claims that she thought he was able to charm the feathers off of a peacock.
The audience witnesses the decrease in Susan’s hostility towards Fred for the jiffy, and they bond on the loss of their fathers during their childhoods. Susan reveals how old she was when her father died. The audience empathizes with her, for its sees an 11-year old on stage. Fred shares his loss with Susan. He was a 15-year old teenager! He states that was a very bad time for him to lose his father. He imagines Susan can see her father, and she becomes very protective. Susan says to Fred, “Leave my father alone.” Fred listens to the sound in the room, and he hears Emma’s music.
Susan goes to the kitchen to see what Bob’s doing. She and Bob discuss Fred. Bob wants to know if Fred wants cream in his coffee. They argue about what to give him with his coffee. Bob suggests Susan’s mother’s cookies, and she objects. However, they give Fred coffee and cookies. He comments about the flavor of the coffee. The taste is just the way he likes it. Fred tells the couple about his baking skills, and he elaborates about how to make different types of cakes. Fred peaks Bob and Susan’s interest in his baking skills.
Bob, Susan and Fred become serious about unexplained events. Bob hints his suspicions about Susan’s illness, and she wants him to keep his mouth shut. Susan simplifies some of Bob’s unwavering doubts about her. Susan tells Bob that Stacey has tried to sabotage their relationship with manipulation, and she exposes Stacey’s secrets to Bob. They argue with each other! Fred tells Bob and Susan all about his story. He breaks his silence to them about leaving Emma. From his mouth to their ears, Fred tells the waring couple how he was not wealthy enough to cater for Emma, for she only ate off of fine china, the best. In Fred own words, he couldn’t afford the woman he loved. Emma imagined his wealth was more than he can afford. Emma was born into wealth, and that was all she knew. Fred assumed that words like downsizing and retrenchment were not in her vocabulary, so he left Emma because he was too embarrassed. Susan surprises the audience with her compassion for Fred’s story, and he tells Bob to cherish their love. Bob goes over to Susan and he assures her of his love for her.
The doorbell rings. It is Scott at the door! By the time he enters the apartment, he sucks up all of the oxygen in the room. Scott tries to be nice to Fred, and they joke with each other. Susan is upset. The audience sees when Scott confronts her. He says, “Why don’t you like me?” Scott makes reference of helping old ladies. Bob wants him to leave, but Scott stands on the table in the apartment. Scott confesses to Bob, Susan and Fred that Stacey treats him like a dog. He still loves Stacey! Bob reminds Scott that they are like spoiled bathroom tissue. Bob wants Scott out of the apartment, but Scott wants to talk about Susan’s pregnancy.
Susan defends her honor and she blames her troubles on Stacey for lying on her. Bob tells Susan that he has no time for a baby. The audience gets the idea from both Susan and Bob that she is not a learned woman. She has a low-end job that doesn’t generate a high income for her. They can’t afford children before he attends law school. Susan listen’s to Bob’s promises of having many children when they are settled. Bob and Scott leave the apartment! Fred and Susan resume their conversation about his life with Emma. He recalls that Emma died 40 years ago, and he wants to put flowers on her grave. Susan tells Fred about her ordeal when she was sick and how she saw her father. She tells Fred that she wanted to stay with him on her sick bed, but her father assured her that it was not her time. Susan recollects how great her father was to her, and she cherished his memories. Fred and Susan bond with each other on a spiritual level. Before he leaves the apartment, he says, “Au revoir mademoiselle!” Susan gets her pocket book and she leaves with Fred. She wants to visit Emma’s grave with him.
The writer gets the message across to the audience on many levels. It sees Bob an educated young man with a degree in history from college. In addition, he wants to become an attorney and he is taking the appropriate steps to achieve his long-term goals. Now, he is in love with his uneducated girlfriend who has issues with him and his friend Scott, but she wants to devour all of his free time to be alone with him. Their days of spending the whole day in bed together are over between them. Susan’s pregnancy, maybe on purpose, to trap him; but Bob doesn’t want a baby and a marriage to cramp his style before he gets to the top of his career ladder. Bob is a college educated young man who has been manipulated by others, but Susan’s a graduate from the University of Life with high distinction. In addition, the writer gives the audience a few history lessons to study on its free time. I recommend this play to theatre goers without any reservation because it supports and empowers the audience. The theme of the story resonates among all age groups despite their socioeconomically status.