As irreverent to parents and their pups as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are to their Catholic sistahs, Christopher Durang's Baby with the Bathwater is a delightfully nasty deconstruction of the family unit. Curtain rises to Helen (Judy Phillips) and John (Robert Bertozzi) bent over a white wicker bassinet in their primary-colored apartment, alternately cooing to their invisible fledgling and lashing out at each other. In saunters amoral Nanny (Karen Goldstein), whose Dostoyevsky-twisted motto -- 'There is no right and wrong, just fun' -- justifies her seduction of the Quaalude/Nyquil-zoned new papa. Meanwhile, a mysterious woman (Pamela St. Ives), whose German shepherd has eaten her newborn, pops in to read excerpts from Mommy Dearest while the resentful Helen goes off to the kitchen 'to work on my novel and pretend like I live alone.' Not surprisingly, the babe - christened Daisy and put in a dress until age 15 because his parents randomly decided he was a she - grows up to have a few problems. After 10 years of therapy, during which he loses the frock and changes his name numerous times, 'Daisy' (Richard Silberg) finally breaks with his increasingly insane and drunken parents at a sick yet sad little birthday bash they throw for him. While highly amusing, this Who's Afraid of Virgina Wolf-shaded Baby also has some sobering things to say about the institution of parenthood. A fine effort from director Patrick Dooley and his rock-solid Shotgun Players.
Francisco Bay Guardian,
October 28, 1992
is no right and wrong. Everything is permitted,' says Nanny, a sinister
school-marm type who wanders in to the Dingleberry household and begins
giving orders. In Baby with the Bathwater, Christopher Durang's
macabre absurdist play, such things are par for the course. The Shotgun
Players' revival, at La Val's Subterranean, highlights the hysteria and
anarchy in this tale that illustrates the frightening consequences of
people in power.
bay Express, November,
This nightmarish vision of the dangers of family life goes from being an outrageous farce in the first half to a stinging morality play in the second, as baby grows up and we witness the dire consequences of bad parenting. But there's no question that this play is entertaining, provocative and very funny, and offers some insight into the roots of insanity and the universal search for approval. It receives a first-rate production here, with imaginative staging and brilliant comic acting from the entire cast: Karen Goldstein's portrayal of a nanny as a kind of cross between Satan and Camille Paglia is worth the price of admission.