Tiny Father Review – When Does Love Happen?

Tiffany Villarin and Maurice Williams in TINY FATHER - Photo by Jeff Lorch
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Written by Mike Lew, TINY FATHER was a co-world premiere with the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield and the Chautauqua Theater Company in 2023. Now TINY FATHER comes to the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2024.

Maurice Williams and Tiffany Villarin – Photo by Jason Bettman

The time is now, and the setting is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in a major American city. Inveterate bachelor Daniel (Maurice Williams) had no plans whatsoever of embarking on parenthood. His friendship (with benefits) with his bestie was supposed to continue so long as both enjoyed the company. In fact, fatherhood came upon him quite by accident – and here he was, in a NICU staring at his 27-week-old daughter, a tiny wizened neonate tipping the scales at under a pound, lying motionless in an isolette with wires everywhere. But it was the least he could do, considering that the child’s mother was herself in ICU. When the new mom unexpectedly dies, Daniel finds himself in a dilemma. Perhaps he can find some answers from Caroline (Tiffany Villarin), the premie’s nurse. But maybe Caroline has some problems herself which she is quietly working out. And maybe the answers he is seeking must come from Daniel himself. Thus begins Daniel’s journey into self-understanding and maturity.

Tiffany Villarin and Maurice Williams – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Skillfully helmed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, who directed the play in Pittsfield and continues in this role at the Geffen, TINY FATHER examines how people grow and mature, including little Sophia (named after Daniel’s grandmother), Caroline, and Daniel himself. While the subject matter may look pretty grim, TINY FATHER is laced with lots of humor at the human condition. Perennial bachelor Daniel’s reaction when responsibility and a new baby are thrust upon him while he wasn’t paying much attention is both poignant and hilarious. Parents of premature infants will surely relate, as will all parents everywhere. The cast of two does an excellent job of balancing the serious and the comic in this well-written dramedy.

Maurice Williams – Photo by Jeff Lorch

David Meyer’s scenic design is excellent and keeps the action moving even though everything occurs in a typical NICU – and inside Daniel’s head. You’ll probably be wondering where such authentic medical instrumentation came from as the revolving stage marks time. Of course, don’t forget that one of the Geffen’s production sponsors is UCLA Health. Tilly Grimes’ costumes suit the ambience, while lighting design by Pablo Santiago and sound design by Uptownworks (Noel Nichols, Bailey Trierweiler, and Daniela Hart) keeps the staging fresh.

Mike Lew – Photo by Walter Kurtz

TINY FATHER is well-written and smacks of authenticity, which should make it an audience favorite. This is a deeply compassionate story which nonetheless keeps us laughing – probably more at ourselves than at anyone in particular. It is really a very human comedy which delves into very human issues with grace – and an occasional giggle.

Moritz van Stuelpnagel – Photo by Dave Thomas Brown

TINY FATHER runs through July 14, 2024, with performances 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Fridays, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Tickets range from $39 to $129. For information and reservations, call 310-208-2028 or go online.


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