The Play About The Baby
27/08/2008 - 02/09/2008
By turns funny, mysterious and disturbing, The Play About The Baby concerns a young couple who have just had a baby, and the strange turn of events that transpire when they are visited by an older man and woman.
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SmackBang Theatre Co. is epitomised by our name – getting kiwis into the heart of theatre. We want to help revive, encourage, and promote Auckland’s locally made theatre. We have created a company where theatre makers can get help to create new work and instigate new ideas. We aim to maximise access to theatre for all emerging, talented, and serious theatre practitioners.
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– Charlie, Gabby, Jared and Tai.
Rachael Blampied, Jonny Hair, Simon Clark and Cherie James
Surreal take on real concepts palatably presented
Review by Jessie Kollen 28th Aug 2008
Four characters; Girl, Boy, Man and Woman, come together in a scenario that imitates life without the constraints of absolute realism. SmackBang Theatre presents The Play About the Baby by Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright Edward Albee.
The imminent threat of chaos to youthful complacency pervades this play that begins with the birth of a baby. The audience is very much included in the experience of the characters, which is at once amusing and disturbing.
The vapid youth of the Girl (Rachael Blampied) and Boy (Jonny Hair) is overstated by the actors, which makes it difficult to have any real sympathy with them, but it does create appropriate contrast with the Man and the Woman characters, who stand out with idiosyncratic appeal.
Simon Clark as Man, and Cherie James as Woman, both bring brilliant life to these roles. There is sort of a devilish charm to the Man and Woman, a charm which descends into something decidedly more devilish and definitely less charming as the play progresses.
For the design of the lighting and set the strength of the play’s dialogue must have made it easy to give in to the temptation to do away with all bells and whistles. The content of this kind of play does transcend location, but I couldn’t help feeling that ‘the blank canvass’ set design means that an opportunity to relate the themes of the play directly to the audience themselves was lost, and would have been sustained by creating a slightly (just slightly!) more locational feel.
The situation in which Edward Albee has placed his characters happens to be surreal, but concepts of youthful ignorance, jaded maturity, creativity, confusion, potential and loss are very real -and all the more frightening because they are real to all of us.
It may take an audience a couple of days to digest the themes at work in The Play About the Baby, but the nutritional material is definitely there and director Charles Unwin and the cast have presented it very palatably.
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