CARROLL GARDENS — Welcome to Carroll Gardens, a parenting paradise where many travel to give up matchbox-sized studios for spacious Brooklyn brownstones.
But in the face of tragedy, the neighborhood can suddenly seem foreign.
Lawrence Dial, a local playwright, explores this idea in his play, “Carroll Gardens,” the story of two couples — Hank and Angelica, who lose one of their two children in a stillbirth just after moving to the Brooklyn neighborhood from the East Village, and their friends, Lily and Izzy, who are still living in the trendy, younger area.
The child’s death brings “a sense of tragedy” that the couple must now deal with in the “foreign environment” of Carroll Gardens, said Dial.
The 32-year-old playwright began writing the play just before the birth of his second daughter, after heading to Carroll Gardens almost two years ago, “where parents move to become adults,” he said.
Like the couple in the play, Dial and his family moved from their East Village apartment to a more spacious spot in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Having grown up in a suburban town, when they began raising their first child in the East Village they felt like they were "missing something,” said Dial, who has a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old daughter.
“Carroll Gardens feels like a more ‘adult neighborhood,’” said Dial. “It feels like you’re progressing as an adult.”
But Dial soon realized that there were differences between the edgy, laid-back East Village and the responsible, grown-up Carroll Gardens.
As a writer, Dial said he noticed that the Manhattan neighborhood was more open to struggling artists whereas Carroll Gardens was filled with “successful” ones.
Dial also works at an East Village Italian restaurant; another characteristic that he said feels out-of-place in the Brooklyn neighborhood. “I don’t meet very many waiters in Carroll Gardens.”
In 2009, Dial, along with a few others playwrights, formed “LabRats,” a theater company consisting of 14 members that meets every Tuesday.
The group raised over $7,500 in a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year to fund their two upcoming plays, “Fall of a Teenage Cyber Queen” by Lindsay Joy Murphy and Dial’s “Carroll Gardens.”
Dial said he is also working on a play set in Cobble Hill called “Unaccompanied Adults,” a story that also delves into the complex world of parenting and relationships.
Carroll Gardens will most likely be staged this summer at the New York Fringe Festival and it is also a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Playwright's Festival, as well as for Juilliard's playwright program.
For more information on LabRats productions, visit their website.