BABY WITH THE BATHWATER by Christopher Durang, directed by Dinah Watts (Alumnae, 70 Berkeley.) To October 7. Pwyc-$18. 416-364-4170. See Continuing, page 98. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
The logic in a Christopher Durang play would work nicely in the world of the Mad Hatter's tea party.
Though Baby With The Bathwater isn't one of his best plays, it makes use of comic non sequiturs to take some well-aimed shots at gender, family and socialization.
John and Helen ( Andrew Dundass and Tanya Lynne ) are the most inept of new parents he relies on Nyquil and Quaaludes for support, she has cocktails for breakfast who can't decide if their child is a boy or a girl. Eventually they guess wrong, call their son Daisy and put him in dresses. They're more childishly petulant than he'll ever be.
A sadistic nanny ( Sarah Sherman ) "helps" them through the early stages of parenthood, as they both turn bitter and mad, twisting the life of little Daisy in the process.
There's a special tone required for Durang's dark, hectic comedy, a tone that's missed in the play's brief first act. Things improve in the second, when director Dinah Watts and her performers discover rhythms that get some genuine laughs, beginning with a park scene where four overprotective mothers watch helplessly as Helen browbeats her unseen, suicidal offspring.
The actors aren't always able to convey the script's bite, but we're treated to sharp-edged comedy from Andrea Irwin as a self-centred school principal who turns sexual discrimination in the workplace upside down, abusing her male secretary; Michael Vitorovich as the increasingly angry grown-up Daisy; and, most consistent of all, Lynne's manic mother, who uses passive aggression to try to control everyone in her life.