Unexpecting: we should expect more

Arts Club's poster for UnexpectingBronwyn Carradine is a recent alumnus of the Arts Club’s Emerging Playwrights’ Unit. That means she’s veryfreshly baked, but she’s already demonstrating considerable control of craft in her new audio play Unexpecting.

Carradine’s story is about lesbian couple Annie and Jo. They fervently want to adopt a baby but their careers as a writer and painter/gallery owner hit the skids just as they become finalists in a selection process that will be decided by Sawyer, the biological mom-to-be.

The script skips along at a snappy sitcom pace, Carradine keeps ratcheting up the tension, and she grounds the narrative in deeper emotion just in time to fashion a moving climax.

The outcome of that climax is inevitable, however: we like Annie and Jo and they want a baby. Will they get one or will they be sidetracked because they’re fighting or because they want to pursue unlikely new career options? Hazard a guess.

The piling on of obstacles often feels arbitrary and insubstantial. When Sawyer turns up at the door unexpectedly, Jo forces Annie’s friend Pam, who’s visiting, to squeeze into a closet: “Hide! You really need to hide!” Understandably, Pam asks why, but there is no answer; this passage is just flurry for flurry’s sake.

Still, the script anchors a well-wrought production (directed by Ashlie Corcoran). AJ Simmons and Emma Slipp deliver assured performances as Annie and Jo. The role of smartass Pam could have been written for the comic skills of Ghazal Azarbad. And when Elizabeth Barrett’s Sawyer arrives, she brings a whole new level of depth.

As a piece of writing, Unexpecting has craft. It could use a bunch more heft.

Unexpecting is part of the Arts Club’s new four-play audio series Listen to This. Here’s where to get tickets for Unexpecting or for the whole series. Both run until September 15.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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