(reviewed for TheaterScene)
Albo talks frankly and unapologetically about these topics, which makes his play funny and poignant.
It seems that in our society certain words are hard to talk about. Words like sperm, masturbation, in vitro fertilization, and fertility clinics are just a few that seem difficult to roll off the tongue. Yet these words are the very center of Mike Albo’s new, one man show, Spermhood. Albo talks frankly and unapologetically about these topics, which makes his play funny and poignant.
Albo’s work entitled; Spermhood: the Diary of a Donor, gives us a first-hand account of Mike. He is a gay male, in his forties. Caroline,a lesbian and her partner had have decided they want to conceive a child and have asked Mike to be the donor. For the next 80 minutes the audience gets a first-hand account of Mike’s journey to fatherhood. We receive a glimpse into the world of sperm donation and fertility processes. Surprisingly, the steps involved can be rather exhausting for everyone. There are strict and thorough testing requirements that everyone must undergo in order to become a donor and a recipient.
Albo’s play it’s not only funny, but very real. In one of his, comically awkward moments he describes what it’s like trying to get aroused from watching cheesy straight porn. He also talks about his dating life, his lack of a sex life, and his preoccupation with his cell phone. Two or three times throughout the play he stops the show to check his dating profiles on his phone. Not only are these funny moments, but they show us just how dependent we have all become on our devices. But when he is not making us laugh hysterically, which he does often, his quieter moments are vulnerable and sincere. These are the real moments, where we see that there is a person underneath all of the hoopla that the topic creates. Just when you think the process is all for nothing, they become pregnant
Director, David Schweizer does a good job telling the story. Albo and him get to the heart of the piece, which can be tricky in a a play that can seem very surface level and one-dimensional. The only issue with the play is the excessive movement of Albo. He never sits still, and at times his frequent movements seem like nervous energy exuded by the actor, rather than coming from the play itself. Sometimes you wish he would just sit still for a second, instead of feeling the need to run around the stage all the time.
Yes, the subject matter for this play is awkward and perhaps a little taboo. But if we really get honest with ourselves we can all relate.. And if Albo can become so honest on stage about his exploits as a sperm donor shouldn’t we have the courage to get honest with ourselves about our own lives?
Spermhood plays Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 pm. At Dixon Place 161A Chrystie St. through May 28th. www.dixonplace.org or by calling (866)-811-4111or Dixon Place at (212) 219-0736.