Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: (Vancouver) The Baby With The Bathwater

Durang's Loops
by David C. Jones
Christopher Durang’s comedies were the toast of Off Broadway in the 1980’s. His cynical but sharply satiric dissection of Catholic upbringing, neurotic relationships, insane parents and queer identity permeates all of his work. He uses his childhood rage and caustic wit to craft bizarre and funny comedies that make you laugh while being disturbed. He can be very, very dark – eg: Sister Mary Ignatius shoots a student at point blank range to send him to God - and very absurd.
The challenge of The Baby With The Bathwater – as with all comedies - is to find truth in the absurdity. We have to really believe Sister Mary Ignatius thinks she has to kill that man - and in Baby With The Bathwater we have to really believe that Daisy has been so traumatized that she will lie comatose in laundry baskets and run headlong at buses.
Daisy is the name of a baby born to two very unfit parents. Mom is a wannabe writer and Dad is an ineffectual alcoholic. A nanny is thrust into their lives as if by magic and is even more loopy than the folks. As an infant a drug addict breaks into the apartment and steals the baby. As if things couldn’t be more screwed up for the kid, Daisy, it turns out, is a boy though raised as a girl.
Tamara Prescott is a wide-eyed impulsive and crazed Mom with several flourishes of comic ingenuity. Missy Cross as the drug addict, a Mom in the park and a concerned teacher, scores the most with her laugh lines but I was surprised there wasn't more delineation between her three characters. Taylor Bishop as the grown Daisy is a warmly confused presence and you feel for him struggling between loving and hating his parents.
In a bold casting move, directors Greg Bishop and Randie Parliament have re-cast the role of Nanny as a male and the dynamic, full-of-bluster Michael Barry Anderson cuts a dashing and over the top figure.
The rest of the all white cast is capable but one yearns for more. The whole show is not dangerous enough. There is little spontaneity in the interactions and we don’t get scary characters from a child’s perspective. There is also a lack of surprise – opportunities built in the script are not taken advantage of. The play covers a 30 year time period but Nanny is the exact same lecherous Gay boy in Act Two as in Act One, even though the Mom refers to her/him as being over 100 years old now. Dad is distracted and ineffectual in Act One and distracted and ineffectual in Act Two.
Mr. Durang rails against perceived injustices by adult figures in a child’s life. He exorcises the demons from his past in his words, exaggerating them and making them absurdly cruel and vicious. That’s what makes his plays so funny. The infant is given a toy made from lead and Red Dye #2! But here the playing of it seems merely perturbed and preoccupied rather than impassioned and formidable.
It’s good fun but it should be great fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.