Albee’s ‘The Play About The Baby’ is a polished gem of black comedy at CustomMade Theatre

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: 4/5 Stars » Highly Recommended)

This reviewer is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

Edward Albee’s  absurdist “The Play About The Baby” is one of his less-0ften produced plays, not previously performed in San Francisco.

A young couple in love have a baby. They are happy. They are innocent. They are simple. Into their idyllic garden comes the spirit of age and experience in the form of an older couple. The characters are simply “Girl”, “Boy”, “Man” and “Woman”.

What happens? The Man and Woman steal the baby. How cruel.

So who is the baby? Or, for that matter, is there really a baby at all? As the play unfolds, many possible explanations come to mind: the baby is innocence incarnate. The baby is faith. The baby is human nature. I, the viewer, am the baby: no, wait! Could it be? Is the play about me?

Maybe we are the baby: foolish, hopeless, helpless, lovable. The baby is hope. (I should mention here that Mr. Albee has stated in interviews that the bay is real, not metaphorical. But then, as the Man in the play remarks, “What’s true and what isn’t is a tricky business, no?”)

Richard Aiello (Man), Shane Rhoades (Boy), Anya Kazimierski (Girl) and Lynda Ayres-Frederick (Woman) in Edward Albee’s The Play About The Baby at CustomMade Theatre. Photo Credit: CustomMade Theatre.

But, the Man and the Woman have stolen the baby, so is hope gone from the world?

Perhaps this doesn’t sound funny? It is, especially in the capable hands of director Brian Katz and actors Richard Aiello (Man), Lynda Ayres-Frederick (Woman), Anya Kazimierski (Girl) and Shane Rhoades (Boy).

Much of the humor comes from the outrageously outspoken young people who say whatever comes to mind.

“I love to lick your armpits,” Girl tells Boy. “I’m hard all the time” Boy tells Man and Woman. Repeatedly.

There is plenty of sexuality and nudity (Boy and Girl repeatedly streak naked across the stage, interrupting the dialogue between Man and Woman).

It is all very silly, and yet…. there is a missing baby! How serious is that?

If you appreciate Edward Albee, you will appreciate CustomMade’s rendition of The Play About The Baby. It is Albee at his best. The Play About The Baby continues at CustomMade Theatre through October 7th. For further information, click here.

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“The Play About The Bay” by Edward Albee, produced by CustomMade Theatre. Director: Brian Katz. Scenic Design: Sarah Phykitt. Lighting Design: Dena Burd. Costumes/Props: Mark Kurzunski.

Girl: Anya Kazimierski. Boy:  Shane Rhoades. Man: Richard Aiello. Woman: Linda Ayres-Frederick.

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