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Photo by Christopher Durang
"Baby with the Bathwater" is Gamut Theatre's last production under its old name. It will soon be known as Off the Rails Theatre.
Photos by Christopher Durang
"Baby with the Bathwater" is a dark comedy.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Gamut Theatre’s latest production, “Baby with the Bathwater” is an incredibly dark comedy, a squirm-in-your-seat-as-you-laugh experience that takes an irreverent look at parenting.
John and Helen are first-time parents who are befuddled and overwhelmed as they care for their newborn. But John and Helen are not really like most new parents.
Helen is narcissistic, temperamental and delusional. John —perpetually unemployed, depressed and self-medicated — has only occasional moments of clarity when he comprehends that he and his wife are not properly caring for their child.
The couple argue constantly, cannot agree on a name for the baby and are too incompetent to determine their child’s gender.
Enter Nanny — brilliantly played by Ross Laguzza — who shows up unannounced to assist John and Helen. Nanny, however, is no sugar-spooning Mary Poppins; think more of a demented Mrs. Doubtfire. Within minutes of arriving, Nanny screams at the baby, feeds Helen’s delusions and seduces John.
The family’s encounter with the mother of another newborn at the end of the first act adds a life-altering scar to the baby’s tender psyche.
The second act is considerably lighter than the first, even though the neglect and emotional abuse of the child eventually named Daisy continues into his (yes, Daisy is really a boy) adulthood.
Along the way, other adults in Daisy’s childhood fail to intervene on his behalf. Mothers at the park are too busy taking selfies with their cell phones to call child services about Helen. After he turns in a disturbing essay, Daisy’s teacher reads it to the school principal, a deranged woman (delightfully played by actor Clay Scheib) too self-absorbed to hear the child’s cry for help.
Some of the play’s funniest moments happen during Daisy’s therapy sessions, which begin when he is in college and continue through adulthood, as he recounts his horrific upbringing, his failed attempt at writing a freshman essay and his promiscuous sex life.
Patrick Kelly combines the right amount of angst and self-awareness in his performance as college-aged and adult Daisy. Linsee Lewis does a good job playing the maniacal mother, Helen, while Owen Merritt balances the performance as John. Director Ami Trowell handles this edgy material well and updates playwright Christopher Durang’s 30-year-old script with current pop culture references.
Adult language and situations may not make “Baby with the Bathwater” a good choice for young children. This is the type of script that may not appeal to everyone, but the production is well crafted and for theatergoers with twisted senses of humor, there are more than a few laughs.
Just remind yourself after the curtain call that no children were actually harmed in the making of this play.