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‘Egg’: Having babies a fertile topic for wicked, fast-paced dialogue

After a long time apart, friends Tina (Alysia Reiner) and Karen (Christina Hendricks) reunite in "Egg." | Gravitas Ventures

If words could physically wound, everyone in “Egg” would have to wear body armor.

You would NOT want to be in the paths of the verbal daggers flying around in this movie.

With a piercingly sharp screenplay by Risa Mickenberg that has echoes of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”; unflinching and fast-paced and sometimes appropriately stagey direction by Marianna Palka; and crackling performances from the ensemble cast, “Egg” is a whip-smart social satire about two couples, each about to welcome a child into the world for the first time.

They’re so intelligent and sophisticated, and they’re so much more evolved in their thinking and their approach to pending parenthood than their parents, and their parents’ parents, and just about every generation of parents that ever lived. Just ask them.

They’re also neurotic and ridiculous and passive-aggressive and sometimes just flat-out aggressive when spouting their philosophies, taking jabs at one another and ultimately confronting some hard and heartbreaking truths.

“Egg” takes place in near real-time, over the course of one seemingly benign get-together among two lifelong friends that explodes into a series of life-changing revelations.

Alysia Reiner (“Orange Is the New Black”) is Tina, a successful New York artist married to the amiable but professionally directionless Wayne (Gbenga Akinnagbe), who on the surface seems content to enjoy the fruits of Tina’s work, including their fabulous, spacious apartment.

Tonight, Tina and Wayne will be hosting Tina’s longtime friend Karen (Christina Hendricks) and Karen’s wealthy, hotshot businessman husband Don (David Alan Basche), who have driven in from the suburbs for the evening. (Don frets about parking his pricey SUV in the city. Shut up, Don.)

Tina and Karen were once extremely close, but they haven’t seen each other much in recent years. In fact, their respective husbands haven’t met until now.

Karen is eight months pregnant.

“Look at you, you’re HUGE!” exclaims Tina with gleeful exuberance, as Karen’s face freezes.

We come to realize Tina’s choice of a form-fitting halter dress with a plunging neckline for the evening was no accident, especially after Tina says she can’t imagine what it would be like to have someone, i.e., a newborn, attached to her breasts all day.

Ah, but Karen gives it right back, noting all the attention she gets for being pregnant makes her feel like she’s famous. Also, now that she’s about to give birth, she’s starting to pity childless couples, ahem.

Turns out Tina and Wayne have a plan of their own to bring a child into the world, and I’ll not reveal the specifics — but I WILL say Tina’s trail-blazing (in her mind) thoughts about parenthood make for some dark and wickedly funny comedy.

The rivalry dynamic between Tina and Karen might well have worn thin if that’s all there was to the relationship, but thanks to Mickenberg’s insightful screenplay and the strikingly resonant performances from Hendricks and Reiner, we come to see how one-upmanship isn’t the only reason they’re still in each other’s lives after all these years.

At times “Egg” indulges in unnecessary, heavy-handed symbolism, and there are moments when characters deliver monologues that sound like too-carefully constructed commentary about longstanding societal mores dictating gender roles.

But there’s much truth and food for thought contained within even the most over-the-top moments.

‘Egg’

Gravitas Ventures presents a film directed by Marianna Palka and written by Risa Mickenberg. No MPAA rating. Running time: 90 minutes. Available on demand and opens Friday at Emagine Frankfort.