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Motherhood tips over a man's world

STAGE BEAT

May 19, 2006|Charlotte Stoudt

Watch out. Mama Bear is in the house -- and craving a peanut butter and pickle sandwich -- in Alex Peabody's solo show "Keeping Faith," about facing parenthood as a gay man. When his partner's single sister calls to ask if the couple would like to adopt the child she's unexpectedly conceived, thirtysomething Peabody suddenly finds himself face to face with his lifelong dream: being "Sadie, the Married Lady," with a loving husband and a baby. But will he be up to the challenge? After all, by society's -- and his own -- admission, he's nothing more than a "faggot."

Galumphing around the near-bare studio stage at Pacific Resident Theatre, Peabody vividly recalls his empathetic pregnancy ("Am I lactating?"), the roller-coaster ride of the adoption process and his very real terror at the prospect of parenting. Haunted by the ghost of his beautiful, deceptively fragile mother, Peabody grapples with the awareness that raising a child represents for him not only the possibility of the greatest joy but also profound loss and self-loathing.

Director Elizabeth Hyer Rose doesn't always find a convincing stage language for the monologue's more dramatic moments, and Peabody's writing can be uneven. Some of the scenes are so casual it feels as if you're overhearing someone's cellphone conversation in a grocery line. But what Peabody occasionally lacks in artfulness, he makes up with infectious commitment, keeping "Faith" a frank, affecting testament to the miraculously everyday circumstances in which love, family and self-acceptance can bloom.

"Keeping Faith: One Man's Journey Into Motherhood" Pacific Resident Theatre, 705 1/2 Venice Blvd., Venice. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 25. $18-$20. (310) 822-8392. Running Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

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