Infertility, the musical that's hard to conceive
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
August 15, 2004
Suppose you have 30 minutes to get to the fertility clinic with a freshly produced cup of warm semen that is tucked safely away in your front pocket but your talkative neighbor won’t let you go. “This sounds like an episode of Seinfeld,” points out composer/lyricist Chris Neuner in his hilarious new revue, Infertility: The Musical That’s Hard to Conceive, but it's not taken from TV, it’s taken from Neuner’s own real-life experience. If you are currently or have ever been through the process of in vitro fertilization or adoption, Infertility is an absolute must-see. You will laugh your head off as you turn to your partner and nod knowingly.
Neuner approaches his subject from three perspectives. First, we are introduced to a straight couple who are attempting to do it the “natural” way, if you can call scheduling sex according to ovulation natural. Eventually they give up on that and go for the costly and impersonal medical alternative. Next we have a lesbian couple who go through the rigors of picking the perfect sperm donor in a side-splitting dating game show with Gene Pool as the host. Finally, there is an executive-type single woman who realizes that a baby is the one thing she doesn’t have. She settles on adoption and is subjected to interrogation and a lot of hoop-jumping. Neuner’s multiple-angle approach lends the show more tenderness, inclusion, and of course more opportunities for humor.
The cast is a little six-member bundle of joy. Their voices are as strong as their stage presences. The three-piece band, including Neuner on electric bass and his wife and musical director, Amy, on piano, is nothing short of excellent. Neuner’s lyrics are heartfelt, hilarious, and sometimes campy, a combination that creates a sense that we are watching a future Broadway production here. However, in order to get to that point, the show will need to become more visually stimulating. Granted, for the purposes of the FringeNYC, it is understandable why a producer would choose to have no set and just a hint of costumes—but that is no reason to limit interesting movement. There are several songs in which Neuner masterfully mixes moving sentiment with humor such as the "Infertile Love Song" series, but for me there is not a song that really stands out as the show’s climactic peak. The second-to-last song, "Big Dogs Run," comes close, but it needs a little more punch.
Even if you have no experience with in vitro fertilization or adoption, Infertility, is definitely worth a look. In the end, Neuner’s ordeal with conception turns out to be a blessing to us all.