Dayton Theatre Guild prepares ‘Expecting Isabel’

Contemporary comedy explores struggles of conception.

Lisa Loomer’s 1998 comedy “Expecting Isabel,” concerning one couple’s struggles to have a child, will be presented by the Dayton Theatre Guild beginning Friday.

Miranda and Nick’s universal predicament encompasses various options and outlets such as fertility drugs, in-vitro fertilization and self-help books. Adoption ultimately factors into the equation, producing its own set of whirlwind discoveries and challenges.

“Family appeals to people,” said Rachel Wilson, who portrays the emotionally scarred, 38-year-old Miranda. “Even though this play is a comedy, it is not made to make light of or poke fun at conceiving, a serious subject matter. But the characters are very real. People can relate to being in a relationship and trying to make it work despite difficulties. Couples face many obstacles whether it’s having a baby or having financial issues. But in the end, you have to come full circle as a couple to resolve and see the relationship through instead of letting it crumble to pieces.”

Wilson, whose previous Guild credits include “Leaving Iowa,” “Ravenscroft” and “Shining City,” says she is particularly striving for honesty and vulnerability as she embodies the complex Miranda. She feels the play’s touching moments will help audiences connect with her character’s journey.

“Miranda didn’t have a peachy upbringing,” she said. “Her mother was an alcoholic. Her father was a manic depressive. Her exterior is tough but she also has a vulnerable side. She doesn’t want to bring a child into the world where there is negativity or other factors that can produce another damaged person. There really are some seriously tender moments that make this play very honest, which I feel is very important.”

In addition to Shawn Hooks (the Guild’s “The Gifts of the Magi”) as Nick, and Rick Flynn (the Guild’s “The Best Man” and “The Constant Wife”) as Sal, multiple roles will be performed by Ellen Ballerene (the Guild’s “Leaving Iowa” and “The Boys Next Door”), Joshua Lisec, Dorothy Michalski, Muse Machine alumna Angelé Price (the Guild’s “Outward Bound”), Amy Taint (the Guild’s “Lost in Yonkers”) and Angela Timpone (the Guild’s “Ghosts” and “The Constant Wife”).

“We’re crafting a really entertaining show,” said director Robb Willoughby, who staged “Leaving Iowa” last season. “This is a bawdy, in-your-face, thoroughly modern play about relationships, even relationships with your own parents. Everyone can relate to that. I want our audience to walk away from this show with a new appreciation for their own family.”

“This play isn’t a heavy drama or an over-the-top farce, but we still want to make an impact,” added Wilson. “We want the audience to be entertained and also understand the peaks and valleys in Miranda and Nick’s evolution.”

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