New York Times
Charles IsherwoodA Boy's Love of Cinderella
In 'A Kid Like Jake,' the Title Character Worries His Mother
"We'll get through this," the older woman says to the younger, in a tone oozing sympathy and understanding, clearly intended to buck up faltering spirits. Ripped from its context, the line and its earnest reading might suggest that the troubles being faced are of a life-threatening or life-altering kind: a cancer diagnosis, the death of a close relative, a psychological breakdown.
Um, no. The older woman, Judy (Caroline Aaron), is merely referring to the arduous, nerve-rattling process of obtaining a place in one of Manhattan's exclusive and expensive private schools for the 4-year-old son of Alex (Carla Gugino), the anxious mother at the center of "A Kid Like Jake," a new play by Daniel Pearle that opened on Monday night at the Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Center.
Mr. Pearle's smart, fluent drama is not, I am relieved to report, merely a study of the harrowing process by which well-heeled New Yorkers scheme and scramble and implore the gods - and the gatekeepers - to win their children admission to rarefied sanctums with names like Dalton and Calhoun. (The subject might lend itself to a nifty comedy, although the details revealed here suggest that even the lunacies of absurdism couldn't touch the actual truth.) ( Read more...Collapse )
Time Out New York
Adam FeldmanA Kid Like Jake
A bright and imaginative four-year-old, Jake is on the brink of "transitioning" to kindergarten, and his mother, Alex (Gugino), is bent on securing a slot at one of New York's dozen most exclusive private schools. But she is reluctant to deal with one key aspect of his emerging personality: that he likes to play with dolls and dress up like a princess. Judy (Aaron), an expert at navigating the application process, advises her to highlight Jake's "gender-variant play" as a selling point, but Alex worries about defining her son's identity so early. And Jake, with the inconvenient timing of the very young, has begun misbehaving in classroom and play situations. Protogay or not, why is he acting out?
Daniel Pearle's A Kid Like Jake is a searching, keenly perceptive look at how the nature-versus-nurture question can play out on the front lines of tolerance today. It is essentially Alex's story (Jake never appears onstage), and Gugino plays her with a fierce will colored with fear of losing control-or of never having had it to begin with. In Evan Cabnet's skillfully acted, quietly absorbing production for LCT3, the greatest pleasures are in the details: the exactness of Pearle's dialogue, the slow boil of denial and resentment, the thin fissures between Alex and her therapist husband, Greg (Grosz). A Kid Like Jake makes a late push against the constraints of straight naturalism, and one may wish that it went wider earlier. But if the piece doesn't burst out of its issue-play limits, it echoes resonantly within them.
David GordonA Kid Like Jake
This imperfect but impressive drama by Daniel Pearle features heartbreaking performances from Carla Gugino and Peter Grosz.
Dramas about parents and their children are nothing new to the entertainment canon. On television there's currently a long-running, acclaimed drama called Parenthood that deals with the subject matter, as did The Cosby Show, Leave it to Beaver, and so on; in theater, it ranges from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Matilda the Musical. How refreshing, then, that the young playwright Daniel Pearle has found an intriguing way to tell a story about two parents and their young son in a way that has not been explored. The result is a flawed but otherwise accomplished drama called A Kid Like Jake, now making its premiere in a sumptuous production at LCT3's Claire Tow Theater under the direction of Evan Cabnet.
Jake is four, and he's everything parents could want: smart, inquisitive, and precocious, with gifts for art, and a wild imagination. He's also enamored with Cinderella and wants to dress as Snow White for Halloween. For his parents, lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom Alex (Carla Gugino) and therapist dad Greg (Peter Grosz), these are just childhood flights of fancy, until the couple begins to see how their son's struggle with gender is harming him in ways he doesn't have the verbiage to express.( Read more...Collapse )
New York Daily News
Joe Dziemianowicz 'A Kid Like Jake': Theater review
Tale of parents trying to get son into private school adds a dash of gender-identity crisis
Whatever happened to the joys of parenting?
"A Kid Like Jake" births more angst than bliss at LCT3 - Lincoln Center's incubator for young writers.
Daniel Pearle's thoughtful but overstuffed drama follows a Manhattan couple as they struggle to get their 4-year-old son Jake into the right private school.
Oh, another one of those familiar New York stories.
But not so fast. It soon comes out that never-seen Jake totally adores Cinderella - including dressing up like the fairy-tale heroine. Nothing like a dash of gender-identity crisis to stir the pot.( Read more...Collapse )
Marilyn StasioLegit Review: 'A Kid Like Jake'
Even with a top-flight production from Lincoln Center Theater, Daniel Pearle's play needs work
Talk about shows that appeal to niche audiences! Daniel Pearle's new play, "A Kid Like Jake," should captivate yuppie parents from upscale urban neighborhoods who are obsessed with getting their little darlings into prestigious private kindergartens that cost $40,000 a year. This talky domestic drama also has a lock on anyone with a 4-year-old kid who displays transgender behavior. Playgoers outside these narrow demographics might reel back in horror from this scary spectacle of parental insanity.
This "Kid" came out of LCT3, the developmental production wing that Lincoln Center Theater recently installed in its handsome new rooftop theater, which means that there are no flies on this production.( Read more...Collapse )
New York Post
Elisabeth VincentelliHe prefers pink
Greg and Alex are a happily married Manhattan couple with a 4-year-old son. Jake is smart, creative - and he loves pretending to be a princess.
"We've got seven different Cinderella DVDs," Alex (Carla Gugino) reminds her husband (Peter Grosz), who seems unfazed. "The Disney version, the Rodgers and Hammerstein, even the one with Brandy."
They aren't worried about Jake's taste for sequined gowns - until it's time to send him to preschool.
The first half of Daniel Pearle's polished new dramedy "A Kid Like Jake" is dominated by Greg and Alex's efforts to get their son - whom we never see - into a private school. Alex, who quit her job as a lawyer to be a full-time mom, plans every detail like Dwight D. Eisenhower mapping Allied movements in WWII. ( Read more...Collapse )
Mark O'ConnellThe Many Mothers of Cinderella Boy: A Review of A Kid Like Jake
What if Cinderella attended the wrong ball? What if she'd been asked to catch a ball (instead of dance) and was ridiculed when she refused? What if Cinderella were a 4-year-old boy named Jake whose parents desperately want him to get into an elite private school?
These are among the questions raised by the new play A Kid Like Jake, which opened Monday, June 17, at Lincoln Center. Like most non-musicals in New York City these days, the context here is contemporary, upper-middle-class "white people" problems. However, unlike several of its peer productions, which feature myopic, sterile conflicts of the "to sip cocktails or not to sip cocktails?" variety, the stakes here are high and broadly relevant: namely, how does one effectively parent a gender-nonconforming boy in the face of norms wickeder than a fairy-tale stepmother?( Read more...Collapse )
Scott BrownThe Stage Dive Weekend Review: A Kid Like Jake
Oh, Carla Gugino: We don't see nearly enough of you ’round these parts. In Daniel Pearle's sturdy, stunningly well-observed kitchen-sink drama, she plays Alex, a typically neurotic upper-middle-class parent with a somewhat atypical dilemma: Her 4-year-old son Jake — on the threshold of that humiliating and barbaric New York City ritual known as the private K-12 application process — has begun to enjoy what Judy, his preschool principal (Caroline Aaron), joyfully refers to as "gender variant play." Not only does she see nothing wrong with Jake's preference for dresses and his obsession with Disney princesses, she sees an opportunity: "This kind of strategizing, it's sickening, I know, but I think you might be able to capitalize on it. Because they're looking for kids — and families — that stand out."
But Alex isn't so thrilled about Jake's uniqueness, and not because she's a garden-variety homophobe. She's deeply, even pathologically, invested in the idea of him as a clean slate. Her clean slate. And so begins a degenerative battle of wills among three committedly progressive people: Alex, Judy, and Alex's husband, Greg (Peter Grosz, nailing the plight of the Gotham beta-male in every tiny stammer). Pearle flirts with melodrama but ends up swinging his sledgehammer very daintily, and director Evan Cabnet walks the line soberly, encouraging his actors neither to shy away from nor give themselves bodily to the faint Lifetime network background radiation that's always detectable but never overwhelming. None of this would work, of course, if Gugino weren't delivering such a brutally nuanced performance — every nerve attenuated, every square inch of her frighteningly engaged — of a helicopter parent with a bird's-eye view of everything except the immovably obvious.
Naveen Kumar'A Kid Like Jake' Opens Off Broadway at LCT3: REVIEW
Playwright Daniel Pearle's new play about a young couple whose 4-year-old son Jake enjoys playing princess at playtime opened Off Broadway last week in a Lincoln Center Theatre production at the Claire Tow theatre.
As an ex-lawyer turned stay at home Mom and a practicing therapist, Alex (Carla Gugino) and Greg's (Peter Grosz) approach to parenting is perhaps more than commonly heady and self-analytical. While they're relatively supportive of Jake's ‘gender variant play' (as his pre-school counselor deems it), their true feelings are put to the test as they navigate the application process for Jake to attend Manhattan private school.
Jake's pre-school counselor and friend of the family Judy (Caroline Aaron) suggests Alex call attention to her son's unique behavior in their applications, as something that may be attractive to progressive schools with an eye for diverse student bodies. As Jake's behavior evolves over the course of the play, the question of which sort of body he actually wants to live in becomes more pressing.( Read more...Collapse )
Melissa Rose BernardoA Kid Like Jake
In a way, A Kid Like Jake - Daniel Pearle's inventive new drama Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center's Claire Tow Theater - is one of those only-in-New-York plays. Parents obsessing over super-competitive private-school applications, jockeying to get their child into the best kindergarten program; names like Dalton, Trinity, Trevor Day, City and Country, St. Ann's, and Ethical Culture spoken in reverent, hushed tones; a throwaway reference to $30,000 preschool tuition. (If ever there was a backhanded endorsement for public schools, this is it. Mayor Bloomberg owes Pearle a big thank-you.)
Yet here, Pearle throws a dramatic wrench into the frightening pre-K process: 4-year-old Jake "likes girl stuff," explains his mother, Alex (Carla Gugino, in a wrenching, beautifully shaded performance). Preschool supervisor Judy (Caroline Aaron) calls it "gender-variant play." Judy wants to capitalize on Jake's fascination with fairy tales - "these schools are looking for diverse classes"; Alex wants to gloss over it; dad Greg (Peter Grosz) wants to send him to therapy - not a surprise, since Greg is a therapist himself. We never see or hear Jake, which is actually a brilliant choice on Pearle's part. Even though the parents' relationship - and all its flaws - comes to the forefront, it's Jake who emerges as the main character.( Read more...Collapse )