The Play About the Baby

All great playwrights regularly revisit at least one compulsion through which they play out their multifaceted musings and commentary on the world. For Edward Albee, the big draw is the effect of his parentage, biological and adoptive, on his life—Three Tall Women being a stellar example. In The Play About the Baby (1998), now in production at Germinal Stage Denver, Albee obliquely revives the imagined, missing, or perhaps given-away baby from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), finding new angles from which to consider his highly sensitive psyche and the many voices present therein.

Deborah Persoff as Woman and Ed Baierlein as Man
Deborah Persoff as Woman
and Ed Baierlein as Man
The story begins with Girl (Kelsey Kaisershot) and Boy (Cole Cribari), their physical attraction, and a baby—all real enough, prima facie. Then Man (Ed Baierlein) weighs in, as if reassessing his youth, noting how much longer everything seemed to take when you were experiencing it for the first time, and how much quicker the journey is when one's life is mostly in hindsight. Indeed, in less than 100 minutes, including intermission, Albee covers all the bases with lean and mean efficiency. Once Woman (Deborah Persoff) arrives, and Girl senses the familiarity (or inevitability?) of her older counterpart, the composite nature of the characters quickly override any real or imagined biographical allusions, transcending Albee, at it were, delivering universal commentary on the human condition. Albee's transparency in this exercise deserves acclaim, and four Pulitzers attest to that!

Cole Cribari as Boy and Kelsey Kaisershot as Girl
Cole Cribari as Boy
and Kelsey Kaisershot as Girl
Kaisershot and Cribari work well in director Tad Baierlein's Pinteresque world (Can't imagine from where he inherited such a worldview!), alternately head-over-heals naked and circumspect. Persoff and Ed Baierlein provide an exquisite contrast in wizened erudition and philosophic dalliance, with tales only a good scotch could coax.

Put aside his American predecessors—O'Neill, Williams, and Miller—for a moment and consider Albee in light of Beckett, Ionesco, and Pinter. As this Germinal Stage Denver production so ably attests, this is the vein in which we must see our country's greatest living playwright.

Germinal Stage Denver's production of The Play About the Baby runs through August 26th. 303-455-7108.

Bob Bows


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