“Quack” is a relevant and thought-provoking comedy that explores the gray area between intent and impact. It’s only the second time this play has been produced, and with their production, the Alley Theatre is bringing the drama of daytime TV star Dr. Irving Baer to Houston.
The plot delves into many social issues, including women in the workplace, anti-vaxxers, feminism, gender roles, fat-shaming, the alt-right, sexual harassment and political correctness. The play is full of thought-provoking and gasp-worthy moments.
Dr. Baer (Chris Hutchison) claims to be a feminist who has spent his life help helping women. While that is his intent, as the play unfolds his impact is called into question. He is surrounded by women, but he does not listen to any of them. He figuratively and even literally talks down to women on stage.
Hutchison portrays Dr. Baer as genuinely having good intentions, but inflated with his own fame and in denial of any responsibility. As the play unfolds, it becomes clear that his words and actions have harmed all the women in his life — his viewers, his wife, his assistant and the journalist who tries to stop him. Hutchison acts out Dr. Baer as incredulous to the fact that he is at fault.
Both Dr. Baer’s wife Meredith Baer (Julia Krohn) and his assistant nurse Kelly Henning (Christina Liang) struggle to find the balance between helping Dr. Baer and working hard to create something that is their own.
One line by Meredith that really stuck with me was that she will be a sentence in her husband’s obituary, but he will be three paragraphs in hers. It illustrates how women are conditioned to revolve their lives around their husband’s. Krohn delivered this line with the brevity of both tragedy and an awakening.
I also applaud the Alley Theatre for their support of contemporary playwrights. The Alley first presented “Quack” with a reading in the 2018 Alley All New Festival.
The Alley Theatre is playing “Quack” through March 10. Fair warning, there is adult language throughout the show. With a valid student ID, tickets are $16 for non-prime performances and $26 for prime performances (Friday and Saturday evenings, Sunday matinees). If purchasing online, use the promo code STUDENT.