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Salt Lake Acting Company: Manning Up

The confusing, ever-shifting landscape of modern American masculinity has been a popular topic for contemporary writers, exploring what it means to be a real man. In Manning Up, playwright Sean Christopher Lewis takes a serio-comic tour through that landscape that’s charming and satisfying more often than it’s overly familiar. The setting is a basement “man cave,” where pals Raymond (Jesse Peery, above right) and Donnie (Lanny Langston, above left) are facing a huge change in their lives. Both of their wives are pregnant with their first child, and their pre-parental anxieties are taking somewhat different forms. Bookish college professor Donnie is worried that he may not be man enough to be a dad. Raymond, on the other hand, faces issues from his past that have him wondering if he’ll be able to handle the job at all. Fear of fatherhood isn’t exactly virgin territory, and Lewis at times goes in some of the more obvious directions, as the guys fall back on sports metaphors to explain their concern that they won’t be ready at the most crucial times. Yet, he’s also savvy enough to recognize that there’s no simple dichotomy between Dad the Protector and Dad the Nurturer, as Raymond and Donnie figure out how to integrate the two into their mental preparations for the big changes to come. And with Langston and Peery providing engaging performances of Lewis’ often snappy dialogue, Manning Up manages to find rich human comedy in figuring out that there’s a particular courage in deciding you’ve got what it takes to do the best you can. (Scott Renshaw)

Date: Nov 8, 2012
Phone: 801-363-0526
Address: 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City, 84103
Where: Salt Lake Acting Company