Friday, February 21, 2014


Early Christopher Durang was venomous. He strode onto the scene with a spectacularly damning indictment of the Catholic Church (and this was before revelations of pedophilia). The Church lashed back and priests told parishioners to stay away from SISTER MARY IGNATIUS. There were picketers and counter-protesters outside the theaters. Good times!

The latter Christopher Durang is clever and cheeky but mostly just plain silly. Mind you, that’s OK. I’m always thankful for reasons to giggle. And laugh we all did at Happy Medium Theatre’s BABY WITH THE BATHWATER (playing through Feb. 22nd).

Director Lizette M. Morris has a first rate cast to screw up poor baby’s upbringing. If Mommy and Daddy weren’t frightening enough, Durang summons the Nanny from hell. Then a stranger appears at baby’s cradle to insure some heavyweight anxiety.

Morris and Dierdre Benson create maximum laughs with an ingenious little ’50s house outfitted with skewed planked walls so we can see who’s coming and going and who’s standing in the rain. (Even the rain is hilarious!) Their vintage commercials (“See the USA in your Chevrolet”) add the delicious frosting to the cake.

Denise Drago is truly scary as the irrationally unprepared mother who would rather have given birth to a best seller. Jeremy Towle makes father loopy in Act I but just wait ‘til Act II some thirty years later, when he’s thoroughly bonkers, swatting away at imaginary owls. Nicole Howard gets to play several roles to the hilt, especially the noxious nanny, as does Drew Linehan, who gets laughs just by tilting her walk in Act I.

Mike Budwey as Baby Daisy (don’t ask, it’s a DNA thing) gets terrific mileage out of his ten years of sessions with an unseen shrink (a funny, Austrian voiced Benson), recounting his fears of buses and laundry. His deer in the headlights ride on the therapist’s elevator is niftily crafted by lighting designer Greg Jutkiewicz.

Costumer Megan Becker scores with her fifties dresses and Daisy’s azure sweater the exact color of Budwey’s eyes. The great thing about the Factory space is that you see everything up close, down to every exacting absurdist detail.