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A CurtainUp Review
A Rooster in the Henhouse
By Eunice Marquet

Don't marry a woman for beauty alone. You'll never become a stay-at-home dad like that. Find a woman with prospects
---John O'Hern
John O'Hern
John O'Hern is a modern model of a man who chose to live the good life as a stay-at-home dad. A Rooster in the Henhouse, currently on Theatre Row, is an autobiographical one-man-show that details his transition from struggling actor with an unsatisfying day job to a suburbanite cock-of-the-walk.

While working at a go-nowhere job, O'Hern meets, falls in love and marries Lisa, a woman with prospects. After several years, Lisa very clinically decides that they should have a child. Since she has more financial potential, John is elected to stay home and care for the child. This decision leads "the Rooster" into the world of natural childbirth, play-dates and au pairs.

Sans props and costumes, O'Hern plays all 25 characters including Lisa, an ob-gyn he likens to 007, Rose from Titanic and a bevy of new mothers. O'Hern has varying degrees of success with his impersonations. His most effective characters are Murphy and O'Donahue, his bar buddies. The pair give John plenty of questionable advice but when the proud dad joyfully asks "Guess who had their first solid poop today?" they ban him from the bar.

Part stand-up comedy and part advice column, A Rooster in the Henhouse is a charming, lighthearted chronicle of a man who finds fulfillment in raising his family. The birthing sequence is especially touching. However, it lacks dramatic conflict since O'Hern has nothing to overcome. The biggest obstacle he faces is that he is a self-admitted "smart-ass," which has a tendency to irritate the other twenty-four characters. In the end, you get the sense of a funny story being told to a group of his friends over dinner.

As directed by Mark Graham, the performance is audience-friendly and evenly paced. Some of the transitions are a bit awkward and the set, which consists of a stool, a loveseat and a director's chair, does little to help the performer effectively drive the story forward.

A Rooster in the Henhouse should appeal to suburbanites and the over-30 crowd. With its lack of a set, props and costumes it's also a good show to take on the road.

(Photo: )

A Rooster In The Henhouse

Written by and starring John O'Hern
Directed by Mark S. Graham
Running Time: 85 minutes with no intermission.
The Lion Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St., 212/239-6200
9/17/03-10/04/03; opening 9/21/03.
Tues through Sat @ 8:00PM, Sun @ 7:00PM, Sat @ 3:00PM. -- $31.25
Reviewed by Eunice Marquet based on September 19th performance
extending to 10/25/03 at The Kirk Theatre in some 42nd Street complex.

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