Friday, 20 December 2002

The Play about the Baby, Edward Albee, Red Stitch, Dec 20, 2002

What: The Play about the Baby, by Edward Albee, Red Stitch Actors Theatre
Where: Red Stitch 80 Inkerman St St Kilda
When: Until November 24 2002 at 8pm
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Having not seen more recent works by Pulitzer prize winning playwright, Edward Albee, I have only early works to compare with this, his latest play.

The Play about the Baby is a less substantial script albeit llively and amusing. IT certainly does not meet the level of sophistication ab complexity of his potent play, Whoo's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. 1962 or A delicate balance. 1967
IT relies on the absurd and metaphorical rather than the realistic and literal.

A young man and his wife Brett Cousins  Laura Gordon) live in domestic bliss in their trailer park with their new baby. They are na├»ve, cheerful, loving and adolescent in every way. No pain has touched them- yet.

An older Man and Woman ( Daniel Frederiksen Kat stewart ) arrive unannounced and uninvited intheir simple, balance orld.

The older couple take the baby with no explnation apart from the Man's sinister epithet, " Without wounds how do you know who you are? How do you know you are alive?" Perhaps Albee wants us to see a Garden of Eden reference.

Kaarin Fairfax's direction makes rather heavy work of the text. The actors stand around a good deal too much and seem uncomfortable in this very stylised almost cabaret style.

Frederiksen plays the Man almost as a loud controlling game show host. His character chides us and the Woman, taunts the young couple and indulges in cryptic references and odd anecdotes about memory.

S thee Wooman, Stewart is engaging and funny. She effectively portrays her as a dizzy, vain woman with the attention span of a gnat.

The main problem with the casting is that the older couple are too young. The roles call for mu h older actors to make the spearation of innocence an maturity work on stage. We cn suspend ourisbelief only so far.

The younger roles are moore difficult to play. Both Cousins and Gordon seem awkward and uncertain.

The design ( Dannielle Brustman) s like a cartoon version of a trailer park with two dimensional caravan wall , fake lawn and fold- up metal chairs.

The metaphorical elements are laboured. The young couple wear white as if they are unsullied and virginal. The older pair are in cocktail outfits fit for Derby day drunken sophisticates.

Res Stitch is a valiant new company to be recommended. The Play about the Baby is entertaining but lacks subtlety.

By Kate Herbert

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