Staging the empty nest

1812 Productions presents Jennifer Childs and Scott Greer’s Two Outta Three

3 minute read
Scott Greer and Jennifer Childs singing onstage together with a yellow-fringed red curtain behind them.
Scott Greer and Jennifer Childs explore the parents' third act. (Photo by Mark Garvin.)

For as long as I’ve been going to plays in Philadelphia, I’ve admired Jennifer Childs and Scott Greer. Married to each other, these actors are each talented in their own right, but something magical happens when they take the stage together, as in their latest 1812 Productions premiere, Two Outta Three.

I wasn’t able to attend the live performances of Two Outta Three, which Childs and Greer created and performed themselves, and I was worried that some of their magic might be lost watching them on my laptop computer in my basement instead of onstage. Fortunately, their magic shone through.

Empty nesting

Childs and Greer are playing themselves, mostly—a vaudevillian version of the couple struggling with their new act, which may or may not be a revival of an old act.

You see, for the past 17 years in real life, Childs and Greer were not only performers, but also parents. And I’ve never spoken to a single parent who didn’t consider that role a fundamental part of their identity. Even when you are a doctor or a lawyer or a senator or a CEO, you are also a parent. So, in the world of Two Outta Three, Childs and Greer combine that dual career-parent identity, starting with the premise that for the last 17 years, the couple and their child did not just live together but also worked together in a three-person vaudevillian act.

But in the show, just like in real life, Childs and Greer’s daughter is off to college. As empty nesters, they are forced to figure out what their act—and their life—looks like now.

Once a parent, always a parent

Childs and Greer’s empty nest characters spend much of the show trying to figure out what their act looks like now. They go back through a number of acts they performed before they had their daughter, running through props and instruments as they swing charmingly from vaudevillian joke peddlers to country western troubadours and beyond, but nothing feels right.

Because that’s the other thing that parents will tell you: you never stop being a parent. Not when you’re out for the night with your friends while your spouse handles bedtime. Not when your child goes to sleepaway camp. And not when your child goes to college and starts to live on their own. You don’t go back to what your life was before you had a baby. You can’t.

A third act

For all their comedic talent—1812 is a comedy company—Childs and Greer shine brightest in this show when the realization dawns on them that they can’t cling to the past versions of themselves. Not the versions pre-parenthood. Not the versions who were active, involved parents. Something new. In theatrical terms, a third act.

I don’t have children of my own, and most of my friends with kids are still several years away from seeing them off to college. But I do have parents, and I know how much they redefined their life together after my youngest sister—the third of their three children—went away to school, leaving them to their suddenly too-big house and their dogs.

Childs and Greer are working through their redefining, too. Two Outta Three is a metaphor for that. I have no doubt that they’ll figure out what’s next.

What, When, Where

Two Outta Three. Created and performed by Jennifer Childs and Scott Greer. Performed live at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, November 19-21, 2021; and available to stream online ($30) through December 19, 2021 via the 1812 website. www.1812productions.org/two-outta-three.

1812 requires proof of Covid vaccination with ID for all patrons, as wells as masks inside the theater. Live-show tickets are sold at reduced capacity.

Accessibility

Plays & Players Theatre is not a wheelchair-accessible venue. The stream of Two Outta Three is accessible on any up-to-date web browser. Viewers have the option for English closed captions.

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