What's it about?
Dada Woof Papa Hot takes place in a modern day New York City (after marriage equality has been achieved throughout the United States), and follows the lives of two newly married gay couples navigating their way through the terrifying reality of raising children.
What did I experience?
I got out of my Directing class at 7:35 PM, uncomfortably aware that Dada Woof Papa Hot started at 8:00 PM sharp. Burdened with the task of getting from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side (Lincoln Center) on a rainy weeknight via public transportation, I was slightly freaking out.
After growing increasingly damp while waiting for the M66 bus, I gave up and hopped in a cab.
On the plus side, I made it to the theatre on time.
Two couples, Jason and Scott, and Alan and Rob, sat at a restaurant and bonded over being gay dads. Jason and Scott were the fathers of Oliver; Alan and Rob were the fathers of Nikki. Although both couples were the parents of pre-school aged children, Jason and Scott were considerably younger than Alan and Rob. But despite their differences in age, the four men seemed to get along fine. As proud parents, almost their entire conversation revolved around Oliver and Nikki, already fast friends in school. While Oliver seemed to desire both Jason and Scott equally, Nikki had an undeniable preference for Rob, and often rejected Alan.
This reminded me of how my brother and I always preferred my mother's presence to my father's as children. Growing up, that was just the norm. I was a Mommy's girl and my brother definitely was a Mommy's boy. That's the way it's always been and the way it still is. I never looked at it from my father's perspective. But after watching Alan repeatedly process his daughter's dismissal of him, I could see the way my dad must have felt, a new father with all these hopes for his children that he loved so much, trying to pretend that their clear disregard for him was something they'd grow out of. It wasn't (sorry Dad).
I wondered if Nikki would be any different. At 3 or 4, her life was so wide open. She liked Rob (Daddy) best now, but she could still gravitate more towards Alan (Papa) as she got older. I never actually saw Nikki on stage, but I'd hear the unmistakable whinny voice of a female child and Rob and Alan would be called into action. Her voice was so present and realistic.
Alan felt neglected by his husband as Rob went out of his way to devote his time to Nikki. Once again, I was reminded of my home situation. When my brother was a toddler, he walked into the living room where my parents were cuddling on the couch. He forced himself between them, furious, elbowing my dad hard and saying "My Mommy!" while giving my dad his best glare. It was cute at the time, because my brother was adorably jealous. But how did my dad feel when even the sparest moments he had alone with my mom were given to his children? I could see how resentment could build up over time. And that's what happened with Alan. His insecurities in both parenthood and his marriage led him to do something he'd come to regret.
For so long, gay people have been fighting for their rights to marry the people they want, be treated as equals, and gain acceptance in society. And now that marriage equality exists throughout the United States, the battle is far from over. Non-straight people are regularly mistreated regardless of the law. And unfair expectations are placed on gay parents as if others are daring them to fail, when if a gay parent were a "bad parent," it would have nothing to do with their sexual orientation. It was refreshing to experience a story that portrayed gay couples as human. Both couples were complex and flawed and loved deeply and made mistakes, but more than anything, they were parents trying to figure it all out, no differently than straight parents, except with much added and unwanted pressure thrust upon them for being gay.