Section: Arts

Baby with the Bathwater explores gender identity issues

Baby with the Bathwater explores gender identity issues

Photo courtesy of Julia Colpitts

by India Amos

Biting satire overwhelmed Kenyon’s Black Box Theater this weekend when Brave Potato Productions performed its own rendition of Baby with the Bathwater, written by Christopher Durang.

Under the direction of Ryan Drake ’14, a nearly full Black Box audience witnessed John and Helen (Henry Quillian ’17 and Caroline Borders ’16), a new couple with a myriad of personal issues, as they tried to raise their child, Daisy (Eamon Levesque ’16). The seemingly typical plot was intermixed with an unconventional plot line of mistaken gender identity and with a humorous caricature of the social and familial problems that plague our society today. Supporting actors Natasha Preston ’17 and Lauren Zoppo ’17 — who played three characters each — provided additional insight into the life of the confused Daisy as the child’s bizarre life unfolded.

While Baby with the Bathwater is not the type of play that might initially come to mind when one thinks about college theatre, the Black Box erupted with bursts of laughter and was filled with applause and appreciation for the unorthodox play. From John and Helen’s first interaction with their newborn child, the approval for Baby with the Bathwater was obvious. While the plot and cheeky dialogue was enough to keep the audience entertained, what really made the viewers so invested in Daisy’s life was the cast’s superb acting. Quillian’s facial expressions while acting as Daisy’s intoxicated father added layers to the scenes, and Borders’ emotional outbursts struck a chord with the audience. Preston made the boisterous, promiscuous Nanny come to life, and Zoppo sold the tragic tale of her baby being eaten by her dog. Levesque more than delivered as Daisy. He brought his character, a boy who had spent the entirety of his childhood being told he was a girl, to life — no easy feat. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Brave Potato’s latest production was the way in which the Black Box itself was transformed.

The theater does not have a stage, but the crew transformed the space to set a variety of scenes using strategically placed props and pieces of furniture. The wardrobe was much like the set design: simple, but it got the job done. Preston and Zoppo had unique looks for each of their characters, though their distinctive costumes were to distinguish their different roles.The extra sounds that accompanied each scene also helped to solidify what was happening on stage. Whether it was the honking of buses, children playing at the park, or the ominous voice of Daisy’s therapist, the extra sounds helped to make the eccentric play all the more believable. Swift runners helped to make scene transitions go smoothly, and the audience was constantly teetering with anticipation as to what would happen next to the confused Daisy. By having very little in the way of scenery, the audience had to rely on their own imagination to see Daisy’s world, but quality acting delivered the story to the viewers. Pairing strong messages about both personal identity and family, Baby with the Bathwater proved to be an enjoyable play. While the plot may have, at times, seemed frivolous or far-fetched, the overall message of the play was hopeful. From Daisy’s birth to his own time as a father, the audience was invested in his life. Viewers cared about the story, which is the true indication of a good play.

BBrave Potato made a good choice with the alternative play, and a strong cast and crew helped the piece come to life in a way that was quite magical.


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