Baby with the Bathwater

Baby with the Bathwater is a play by Christopher Durang about a boy named Daisy, his influences, and his eventual outcome.

Baby with the Bathwater
Babywiththebathwater
Poster for New York City production
Written byChristopher Durang
Date premieredMarch 31, 1983
Original languageEnglish

Synopsis

Act I

Two parents who are completely unprepared for parenthood bring home their newborn baby. The two cannot seem to name the baby. John thinks the baby is a boy, but Helen says the doctors said they could decide later. When the baby cries, the two cannot quite decide what to do. To their rescue comes Nanny – who enters their apartment as if by magic, and is full of abrupt shifts of mood, first cooing at the baby soothingly, then screaming at it. In subsequent scenes, John and Nanny have an affair, Helen takes baby and leaves, only to come back a moment later rain-soaked and unhappy.

Act II

By the time the baby is a toddler, Daisy has finally been named. At this age Daisy has a penchant for running in front of buses and for lying, depressed, in piles of laundry. The audience hears an alarming essay Daisy has written in school, and the principal, the terrifying Miss Willoughby, is oblivious to the essay’s cry for help, and instead gleefully awards it an "A" for style. Years later, Daisy enters dressed as a girl, but obviously a young man. The audience follows his years of therapy, where he alternates between feelings of depression and anger, and is unable to complete his freshman essay on Gulliver’s Travels despite having been in college for five years. In a scene reminiscent of the beginning of the play, Daisy (who has since chosen a new name) and his young bride fondly regard their own baby, determined not to repeat their parents' calamitous mistakes.

Response

Critical reception

"Mr. Durang is one of our theater’s brightest hopes – he knows how to write funny plays, which makes him a rarity. In Baby with the Bathwater, he manages to combine all three modes farce, satire, good-humored wackiness … Durang keeps laughter bubbling... We laugh and gasp at the same time." Sylviane Gold, The Wall Street Journal

"Christopher Durang is one of the funniest dramatists alive, and one of the most sharply satiric. This time, parenthood is the target. Keith Reddin, as the former Daisy, is the perfect Durang leading man, puzzled and gravely polite, until he finally asserts himself." Edith Oliver, The New Yorker

"Nanny – a warped Mary Poppins as played by Dana Ivey – believes that cuddling children only spoils them. She gives the baby a rattle made of asbestos, lead and Red Dye No. 2. … Daisy proves a fuller creation than the outrageous facts suggest. Watching the character undergo therapy, we feel the pain that leads him to have more than 1,700 sexual partners, that makes it impossible for him to find an identity or a name. A playwright who shares Swift’s bleak view of humanity, [Durang] conquers bitterness and finds a way to turn rage into comedy that is redemptive as well as funny."[1] Frank Rich, The New York Times

Production history

References

  1. ^ Rich, Frank (1983-11-09). "STAGE: 'BABY,' NEW DURANG COMEDY". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
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Christopher Ferdinand Durang (born January 2, 1949) is an American playwright known for works of outrageous and often absurd comedy. His work was especially popular in the 1980s, though his career seemed to get a second wind in the late 1990s. His play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2013. The production was directed by Nicholas Martin, and featured Sigourney Weaver, David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen, Billy Magnussen, Shalita Grant and Genevieve Angelson.

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2008-2009 Season:

Remnants of Desire,

Step on a Crack,

Love Moves,

Anything Goes (Cole Porter musical),

Deer and the Antelope Play,

On the Verge

2007-2008 Season:

Stop Kiss,

Antigone (Sophocles play) (tragedy),

Dead Man Walking (by actor Tim Robbins),

The Shape of Things,

Shiloh Rules,

Baby With the Bathwater,

Edward II (play)

2006-2007 Season:

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged),

Summer and Smoke (Tennessee Williams),

Rashōmon (short story),

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,

Oklahoma!,

Messiah on the Frigidaire,

To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

2005-2006 Season:

The Book of Liz,

The Jungle Book,

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (by black playwright Anna Deavere Smith)

Travels with My Aunt (play) (Graham Greene),

Cyrano de Bergerac (play),

Boston Marriage (play),

Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare comedy)

https://www.winthrop.edu/cvpa/THEATREDANCE/default.aspx?id=15100

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