The Ice Child

by John Stoltenberg

If Rick Santorum, Randall Terry, and other prolife male poobahs ever need a collective wet dream, The Ice Child could do nicely. For packed inside this Factory 449 production is a story that was as unsettling and disconcerting to me as, I imagine, it might be arousing to an androcentric antichoicer:

Man in a bar overhears a newly pregnant woman talk of having an abortion. He then kidnaps her and locks her in a freezer chest in his basement, where he intends to keep her for nine months until she bears a baby. His redeeming mercy: The freezer is plugged in but it’s out of order. So she’s overheated, not frozen.

The man has a wife, in whom he’s lost sexual interest. She doesn’t go down to the basement, his man cave. Meanwhile she carries on an affair with a young hunk, with whom the husband may or may not be having a bromance.

Atop this potent erotic-political brew, tossed on like random croutons, are some racial bewilderments. The monstrous husband is black (and refers at one point to the “tan children” he desires). The unwanted wife is über-Aryan (and now and then speaks German). The boy toy and imprisoned victim are average American whitebread.

I would have liked to know what to make of this.

The staging was evocative, almost brilliant. The actors appeared framed in white boxes (yes, like ice chests) on either side of a screen on which were projected mesmerizing videos, as of the coffined young woman struggling to break free. The actors—Sara Barker (young woman), Dexter Hamlett (husband), Karin Rosnizeck (wife), and David Landstrom (studlet)—stood before floor mics and, in the stentorian presentational style of Factory 449’s previous production, 4.48 Psychosis, enunciated their lines to the audience with earnest conviction. It was all very dialectical, very Brecht, very theater of alienation. And kind of cool.

But if there was a message, it was a mess.

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