Make us your home page

Review: Simple Theatre's 'Good Egg' a powerful look at fragile choice

Christopher Jackson and Meg Heimstead in Good Egg.

Courtesy of A Simple Theatre

Christopher Jackson and Meg Heimstead in Good Egg.

There are currently no genetic tests for psychiatric disorders. Maybe someday. But that's a question, isn't it? You've witnessed your brother/mother/aunt struggle for years with ADHD/schizophrenia/OCD. It's woven into the fabric of their character. And you love them. But would you do what you could to prevent passing that gene on to your own child?

This is the central question of A Simple Theatre's inaugural production at Eckerd College's Bininger Theatre. Dorothy Fortenberry's powerful Good Egg unfolds in a blandly pleasant living room with couch and arm chair. This serves as the play's only set, but also as metaphor. First it is older sister Meg's (Meg Heimstead) womb, a comfortable but empty space awaiting tenants in the form of in vitro fertilization. And later, once mussed and cluttered with unfinished projects, it represents the mind of bipolar younger brother Matt (Chris Jackson).

When we first meet Matt he fills the intimate black box theater set up within the Bininger (really a small theater within the larger theater) with vivacious boyishness. He's come, lured by popcorn, hot cocoa and a DVD of Singin' in the Rain, to hear Meg's news: No man in her life, she's decided to have a baby the newfangled way.

Heimstead (a Tampa Bay veteran from American Stage and Freefall) plays the dutiful first born with long-suffering dignity. She's always done the right thing, taking care of her brother after the death of their mother and the suicide of their bipolar father. But now it's time for her dreams.

Matt, played by Jackson as an ever-more-coiled spring, antically embraces the idea: a niece or a nephew to teach and to love. But his feelings sour quickly as he realizes that, while Meg's sperm donor looks a lot like himself and their dad, she will implant only an embryo that tests negative for manic depression.

What follows is a vivid window into bipolar disorder not unlike Kay Jamison's seminal An Unquiet Mind, which is both academic examination and memoir. Matt, forgoing his meds, becomes more and more unmanageable as Meg's implantation date approaches. With leg tremors, grandiose plans and hair that could use a good washing, Jackson plays it brilliantly. Heimstead's role is quieter, often performed in schlumpy pajamas or printed hospital gown, but she conveys the silent elegiac lament of a witness to her 50th train wreck. She knows how this plays out, and it isn't going to be pretty.

Interestingly, the play's director and Simple Theatre's artistic director Gavin Hawk describes Good Egg as a dramedy in the playbill. Alright, there are moments of humor (as in Matt's memory of the dad buying him a huge sack of fortune cookies on a wild midnight ride to Lake Michigan), but inevitably it turns painful (the fortune cookies "turned out to be kind of terrible. … If you can have anything you want, anything you get" ends up disappointing, he muses).

After a violent climax, the audience is left to consider issues of bioethics: Just how much should we be able to choose about our progeny? The play's title refers to both Meg's family role as "good egg" as well as to her desire for eggs free of the family curse (a malady Matt sees as the source of his strength and individuality). Kind of like most family interactions, eggs are broken in Good Egg, but it's unclear whether any omelets have been made.

Laura Reiley can be reached at or (727) 892-2293. Follow @LReiley on Twitter.

.if you go

Good Egg runs through Sunday, with shows at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. $25; $20 students/seniors. Eckerd College Bininger Theatre is at 4200 54th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 864-8279.

Review: Simple Theatre's 'Good Egg' a powerful look at fragile choice 07/22/13 [Last modified: Monday, July 22, 2013 8:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  2. Ticket window: Shania Twain, Chicago, George Benson

    Music & Concerts

    Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:

    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 01:  Singer Shania Twain performs during the debut of her residency show "Shania: Still the One" at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on December 1, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
  3. Plan your weekend Aug. 25-27: Craig Morgan, Wearable Art 13, SNL's Pete Davidson, Rodeo Fest


    Plan your weekend


    Pete Davidson: Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson will headline this year's University of South Florida Round-Up Comedy Show, a back-to-school tradition at USF. Expect to hear about his recent trip to rehab, since he's known for his confessional …

    The 12th annual Wearable art Fashion Show was held at the Dunedin Fine Art Center on Saturday evening, August 27, 2016.
DAVID W DOONAN | Special To The Times
  4. Pasco Events for Aug. 25-31


    25 Friday

    Feeding Pasco's Elderly hosts inaugural Leadership Breakfast: The Pasco County Elderly Nutrition Division/Feeding Pasco's Elderly will host this east Pasco event to mirror the Ambassador's Breakfast fundraising event that has been held the past two years on the county's west side. County …

  5. Local craft beer of the week: Cherry Pastelitos, Coppertail Brewing Co. in Tampa

    Bars & Spirits

    On Saturday, Tampa's Coppertail Brewing Co. will celebrate its third anniversary with a Florida weisse festival, showcasing densely fruited tart wheat beers from more than a dozen Tampa Bay area breweries including, of course, many of its own brews in this summer-friendly style.

    Center: Coppertail Brewing’s Cherry Pastelitos. Flanking it are Coppertail’s BOMP (blood orange, mango, passionfruit), left, and Pinky Swear (pink lemonade-flavored).