Author Archive for: ‘KedarAdour’
(top L) Anya Kazimierski, Shane Rhoads as Boy and Girl and Baby. (Top R) Richard Aiello as Man telling his tale with bank of chairs. (Lower R) Linda Ayes-Frederick as Woman remembering Prince Charming in Custom Made’s production of The Play About the Baby.
The Play About the Baby by Edward Albee. Directed by Brian Katz. Gough Street Playhouse, 1622 Gough Street, San Francisco. 415-798-2682 or www.custommade.org/the-baby. Through October 14, 2012
THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY at Custom Made has a great cast
When Edward Albee, in a 2001interview with Charlie Rose, was asked what The Play About the Baby was about, the answer was “It is about 2 hours.” In that same interview when asked “What’s the idea of the play?” his response was “I don’t know.” In Custom Made’s excellent production of the play under Brian Katz’s firm hand the play is about one hour and 45 minutes including a 10 minute intermission and when you leave you won’t know what Albee’s idea was for writing the play. Director Katz plays directly into Albee’s hands (trap?).
Albee also insists that his plays are written for small 100 seat theatres. He gets his wish for this play at the intimate theatre attached to a church on Gough Street. The devious and inventive director gets the audience into the right frame of mind to enjoy (?) this play by creating a set utilizing a floor to ceiling wall of chairs invoking the image of The Chairs an absurdist “tragic farce” by Eugene Ionesco written in 1952. OK Brian, you’ve got our attention and we are going to see an absurdist play. Now where do we go from here?
Since the play is about the baby we need a baby and in two extremely brief black out scenes the younger pair (named Boy and Girl) of the quartet in the play are blessed with a baby. Marital bliss abounds and when Girl breast feeds the baby, Boy says “Save some for me” and he gets his share. If this were not an absurdist play a psychiatrist would be needed.
The other half of the quartet (quintet if you count the unseen baby) is an older couple Man and Woman. Man is the interlocutor of the evening. Yes, interlocutor is an appropriate designation since what plays out is a circus of reality and unreality. If, as Albee insists, the baby is real then what transpires amounts to terror. If the baby is fictional as in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf then just sit back and let your mind try to absorb what in hell is Albee trying to say.
Is he equating love with sex since he gives Boy multiple lines insisting, “We’re truly in love. I always have a hard on!” and to girl, “I love being on you – in you.” Albee is obsessed with sex (just ask local playwright Joe Besecker who has written a play Bee-Eye with Albee as a major character). He evokes eroticism with the imagery of Man appearing to be blind stroking the bronze penis of a bull in a museum. He also throws in a suggestion of homosexuality (so what else is new?) What seems like an innocuous tale told to Girl by Boy about a Gypsy scam involving a switch of paper bags in act one becomes a horrible suggestion in act two. Don’t ask.
To the incessant question of Boy/Girl to Man/Woman, “Who are you?’ the first reply is “We know your mother. We may not be remembered but not forgotten.” The more cogent/questionable reply is “We are your destination” intimating that they will morph into personae of Man and Woman. Now that’s scary. What is even scarier is that this creepy couple can invade the minds of the youthful couple and erase from memory the conception and birth of their baby.
Yes, The Play About the Baby is confusing and Albee Like Picasso is putting us on and laughing up his sleeve as we praise their absurdist so called master pieces. Fortunately Brian Katz has a superb cast of Anya Kazimierski, Shane Rhoads, Richard Aiello and Linda Ayes-Frederick who give each of their characters verisimilitude in a morass of confusion. We agree with Woman who tells Man “You go too far.” That being said, this reviewer highly recommends seeing another side of Albee whose plays have had a resurgence in the Bay Area.
Marin Theatre Company mounted the overlong and tedious Tiny Alice and Aurora won praise from the author for their brilliant A Delicate Balance. The Play About the Baby can be categorized as falling between the two confirming that Albee is Albee is Albee. “If you have no wounds how can you know if you’re alive? If you have no scar how do you know who you are? Have been? Can ever be?” and you should not miss this production. (Full frontal nudity)
Kedar K. Adour, MD