Baby with the Bathwater (2004)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Christopher Durang

Directed by Bob Callender

Performances: Wed 14th – Sat 17th January 2004, Prompt Corner


HELEN: We don't know what sex it is. It's too young. The doctor said we could decide later.

JOHN: You don't decide later! Gender is a fact, it's not a decision!

HELEN: That's not what the doctor said to me. He said something about the DNA molecule. They're splitting it differently now. He said if the DNA combined one way, the child would have testosterone and then we could either have it circumcised or not, depending. Or else the DNA combines with oestrogen, in which case it would be a girl. Or in some cases, the DNA combines with cobalt molecules, and then the child would be radioactive for 5000 years and we'd have to send it out into orbit.

Helen and John have just brought home their new baby. They're excited, proud and, like a lot of new parents, sick deranged psychopaths who shouldn't be allowed a bloody hamster, let alone a living, breathing human child.

"Baby with the Bathwater" follows the child through the first crucial 30 years of its life - the drugs, the booze, the pointy sticks, the kidnappings, the traffic accidents, the mad slavering dogs, the lethal toys, the joyless promiscuity, the random madwomen who just turn up . . .

“Baby With The Bathwater” follows the adventures of a child who has had the misfortune to be born to a couple of complete nutcases and is plunged into a world of madness, prescription medication, savage dogs and runaway public transport.

The writing is very much in the heightened comedy style, and Emma Connelly has designed a striking set to reflect this, with the parents’ house portrayed as a black-and-white comic-strip location, while the characters will be costumed in high colour.

The play itself is quite short (around an hour ten) so we hope to be able to spend plenty of time in rehearsals coming up with silly ideas and trying out different ways of doing things. We’ll be aiming to arrive at performances that combine the best of the pace and heightened style necessary to comedy, while keeping the characters rooted in genuine human emotion. Because as well as the laughs, there are plenty of sad and disturbing moments in the play too, and we need to guard against the characters becoming one-dimensional monsters.

If you’re looking for parenting tips, Dr Spock is probably the safer bet, but if it’s a fast, funny, and occasionally queasy ride you’re after, this might turn out to be the baby for you.

It’s pleasing to be working with lots of new faces. This will be the first appearance on the SLT stage for Helen Herman, John Thompson, Laura Cariola, Iva Dacheva and Nora Szilagyi. Also here are three survivors from last May’s production of the Nik Warburton classic “Melons at the Parsonage” - Emma Hillman, Chris Theophilus and Chris Loft. The cast is rounded out with the bizarre comic stylings of Ronae Jolliffe, Chris Learmonth and Chris Vian-Smith.

Fans of meaningless trivia will be delighted to note that the parts of the parents, Helen and John, are being played by actors called, yes, Helen and John. And that we have no less than four Chrises in the cast. And a Nora and a Laura. Negotiations are currently underway with Emma and Ronae to get them to change their names to “Dora” and “Cora” . . . or failing that “Chris” and “Chris”.




Posted on the SLT Notice Board by David Lomas: Enjoyed the show a lot last night and I thought Bob and his fearless cast successfully pulled off a deeply weird, difficult piece. Full-tilt raucous panto absurdity in the first half (with Helen Herman's admirably sustained manic mother the highlight) and some extremely dark, uncomfortable moments after the interval, in which the play's main theme took centre stage concerning the madness and hurt handed on within the family unit from all-powerful parents to their hapless children (an element of which abuse exists in all families, I think Durang was saying). Chris Learmonth made Daisy's ultimate bewilderment, anger and dysfunction real and disturbing. Lots of extremely enjoyable cameo moments too, for me most particularly newcomer Laura Cariola's understated baby snatcher (her low key barkingness contrasting nicely with the high-voltage lunacy going on around her), Emma Hillman's earnest and exasperated teacher and Ronae Jolliffe's mother on the park bench, whose particular brand of damage and lunacy I won't spoil by revealing but which is a pure and unexpected delight when it happens. Recommended!


Phil Gammon's complete photos can be seen here

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