‘Subfertile,’ A Play by Tom Mardirosian, Opens Off-Broadway
NEW YORK (AP) _ The hero of Tom Mardirosian’s new play, a character not unlike Mardirosian himself, faces 40 fearfully, talks to dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History, favors loud bowling shirts and suffers from a low sperm count.
This autobiographical trivia doesn’t sound like the stuff of good comedy but it is, particularly because the protagonist is played by Mardirosian himself, a balding raconteur with a wry, humorous outlook on life.
His play is called ″Subfertile,″ and it opened Wednesday in the tiny studio theater at off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons.
Mardirosian’s last comedy, ″Saved from Obscurity,″ was done there two years ago and dramatized his struggle to become an actor. With ″Subfertile″ he struggles to become a father.
The journey to parenthood isn’t easy, according to Mardirosian. You think Connie Chung and Maury Povich have problems? The roadblocks for our hero aren’t just physical. There are expensive and uncaring doctors, humiliating medical examinations, the endless questions of well-meaning friends and the inevitable tensions between husband and wife.
But Mardirosian manages to make the difficulties comic, often outrageous fun. The playwright takes a personal, conversational tone with the audience. He talks directly to them.
The actor starts with his first sexual experiences, back as a teen-ager in Buffalo, N.Y., and works his way up to the present. He covers his college and post-college dalliances as well as the problems he and his wife Jackie have when they try to conceive.
One highlight is an operation Mardirosian endures to improve his sperm count. The anesthetic produces a hilarious fantasy sequence right out of ″Star Trek″ - call it ″Sperm Trek″ - in which Mardirosian becomes a Spock with soul and sensitivity.
The playwright-actor gets expert help from four other actors, some in a variety of roles. They include Frederica Meister, who plays his beleaguered wife; Richard Council as two different doctors and his obnoxious blue-collar childhood friend; Susan Knight as a giggly beauty-parlor operator he beds, and Kitty Crooks as a third doctor who tries to get him out of his predicament.
Director John Ferraro doesn’t let the evening spin too long. At 90 minutes, it’s exactly right. ″Subfertile″ further cements Mardirosian’s reputation as a playwright of promise whose best subject is himself.