BABY WITH THE BATHWATER Opens May 10 In Portsmouth

BABY WITH THE BATHWATER Opens May 10 In PortsmouthForget the fact that they probably have to change the baby's diaper. Just accept it that John and Helen don't know what gender their baby, then child, then teenager is.

This is the characteristically absurd premise of the Christopher Durang play, "Baby With the Bathwater," opening May 10 and running three weekends at the Players' Ring theater in Portsmouth.

As it happens, this kind of humor, sometimes dark and often satirical, is just what director Jonathan-Hoar likes about Durang's work and what prompted him to direct the same show he appeared in decades ago.

"Durang is really... well his writing is really unhinged, but in a good way," said Jonathan. "His writing is literally insane. And his characters often make no sense."

Produced by Veterans in Performing Arts, "Baby with the Bathwater" includes a cast of half a dozen actors, most of them veterans. The veterans group was formed seven years ago by Jonathan to integrate veterans and non-veterans into theater and the arts.

"Baby" opens with the new parents gazing proudly at their offspring, a bit disappointed it doesn't speak English and too polite to check its sex. Helen and John simply decide the child is a girl, name it Daisy and go on to raise a child with all manner of emotional and personality problems. As it turns out that Daisy is actually a boy.

Through hilarious scenes, the play tells the story of Daisy's struggle to establish his identity amidst his parents' obliviousness. The script features a zany nanny, as well as Daisy's penchant as a toddler for throwing himself in front of buses and his bizarre problems in school. Sessions with his analyst enable Daisy to find himself before the play comes full circles as the man formerly known as Daisy joins his bride in looking at their own baby.

"It's timeless, but really satirical as well," said Brandon Lavin of Somersworth, who believes it addresses those thoughts that no one wants to talk about but many people have.

"That's what resonates with those who are child-rearing," he said, "those dark moments when parents realize 'Oh no I should not be thinking that way.'"

Joi Smith, board member at the Players' Ring and a long-time fan of the playwright Durang's satirical humor, is looking forward to seeing the upcoming version produced by Veterans in the Performing Arts.

"I always feel there is underlying depth to Durang's work that gets overlooked," Smith said. "'Baby with the Bath Water' is a look at how deeply we can be in denial about something, how we can ignore something that is right in front of our noses."

"Baby with the Bathwater" will be performed Fridays through Sundays May 10 to 26 at the Players' Ring Theatre at 105 Marcy St. in Portsmouth, with shows Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3. Tickets are $18 with discounts for students, seniors, and Players' Ring members. Reservations can be made at playersring.org or 603-436-8123.



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