Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Play About The Baby
Also see Tracy's recent review of Ain't Misbehavin'
We have all heard the old query, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?" Replace the tree with a baby and the absent listener with a woman giving birth out of view and the result is Edward Albee's The Play About The Baby.
The Play About The Baby opens with Girl and Boy. Girl and Boy are young, passionate and deeply in love. They are also new parents who are delighted with their little bundle of joy. It is as if Girl and Boy are a modern day Adam and Eve. They romp around in their own private Eden, doing as they wish. Unfortunately, their bliss is short-lived. Not one, but two serpents enter the couple's utopia. They come in the form of Man and Woman. Man and Woman are fascinating creatures. They are eloquent and bright but there is also something sinister about them. Quite simply, they have come to take the baby.
It is not uncommon for Albee to view the family unit and find its thorns. It is understandable, considering the fact that his own childhood was no picnic. In this piece he ponders and dissects it, getting to the real issue up for debate - the question of what is reality and what is not.
Philip Goodwin, Matt Stinton, Kosha Engler & Nancy Robinette
In many ways this play works, but it also has some weaknesses. There is no denying that Albee has a sharp wit and a fertile imagination. This is definitely a show that inspires discussion. He uses humor to break many tense moments and the device is well placed. However, at times the dialogue seems overblown. That is not to say there aren't some truly remarkable moments in the piece, but in the end it just feels like it is trying too hard.
The moments that are remarkable are deftly interpreted by director Joy Zinoman. She guides an outstanding cast made up of Kosha Engler, Matt Stinton, Philip Goodwin and Nancy Robinette. As Girl and Boy, Kosha Engler and Matt Stinton display an innocence that works well for the piece. Their delivery is rhythmic and simple, conveying the deceptively uncomplicated nature of the characters.
Philip Goodwin and Nancy Robinette as Man and Woman are a bit more robust in their portrayals. Both are dynamic performers who handle their roles with great skill. Mr. Goodwin's delivery is casual and engaging. He is the perfect serpent as he draws the audience in before going for the kill. Nancy Robinette is just as effective. At times she is reminiscent of a youthful seducer and at other times she is like a dotty old aunt. Throughout it all, her portrayal contains a tinge of sadness that is sympathetic despite the fact that her character's motives are less than pure.
Be advised that The Play About The Baby is for mature audiences. The play tackles some very adult themes and features nudity. That aside, it is a thought-provoking piece that shows off some talented actors. Regretfully, the excellent performances in this production are not enough to make The Play About The Baby completely successful. The Play About The Baby runs at Studio Theatre through May 4th.
The Studio Theatre
Kosha Engler: Girl