L to R: Katie Armijo (Helen) and Josh Shakra (John)
L to R: Josh Shakra (John) and Katie Armijo (Helen)
L to R: Matthew Esqueda (Daisy) and Denise Castaneda (Susan)
L to R: Denise Castaneda (Angela), Sherrie Hildreth (Kate) and Katie Armijo (Helen)
L to R: Matthew Esqueda (Daisy) and Wynne Broms (Nannie)
Feb 02-Mar 16, 2008
Bitingly satiric black comedy by one of our theatre's most provocative and inventive writers. This time his target is parenthood, which he skewers with savagely gleeful wit and characteristically outrageous humor.
No Strings Theatre Company presents "Baby with the Bathwater" which opens Friday, February 29, 2008 and continues through Sunday, March 16 at Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall. The play is an entertaining dark comedy about the trials and joys of parenthood, written by Christopher Durang and directed by NSTC's Artistic Director, Ceil Herman. "Baby With The Bathwater" begins its story in the late 1970s and runs through 30 years to present time. Helen and John, the parents in the play, are totally unprepared for parenthood. When their baby arrives, they aren't even competent enough to decide if it's a boy or a girl. Helen, who wants the baby to be a girl, explains to John that the doctors told her they could decide later about the gender of the baby, so they name it "Daisy." Before long, however, they discover that Daisy is, in fact, a boy. A nanny (named Nanny) magically appears to help care for the infant, but winds up presenting more personal and domestic problems than she solves.
Christopher Durang, 59, is a famous contemporary playwright who was born in Montclair, New Jersey and now lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. NSTC produced his play, "Beyond Therapy," at the Black Box Theatre in 2002. "Baby With The Bathwater" premiered March 31, 1983 in a production by the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was subsequently produced by Playwrights Horizon off Broadway in New York. Sylviane Gold of the Wall Street Journal wrote "Mr Durang is one of our theater's brightest hopes.. he knows how to write funny plays, which makes him a rarity. In "Baby With The Bathwater," he manages to combine all three modes, farce, satire, good-humored wackiness... Durang keeps laughter bubbling...We laugh and gasp at the same time." Edith Oliver in the New Yorker called Durang "... one of the funniest dramatists alive and one of the most sharply satiric" and Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times that the play "...conquers bitterness and find a way to turn rage into comedy that is redemptive as well as funny."
The "Baby With The Bathwater" cast include theatre veterans, some of which are actors new to the Black Box Theatre. Katie Armijo, a language arts teacher at Camino Real Middle School, plays Helen, the mother in "Baby with the Bathwater." In late 2007, she played four parts in NSTC's "Almost, Maine." Wynne Broms plays Nanny and also plays the principal of Daisy's elementary school, Mrs. Willoughby. She has been seen at the Black Box Theatre in "Cinderella Waltz," "Wonder of the World," "Nickel and Dimed" and "Mystery of the Rose Bouquet." Denise Castanada, a junior Theatre Arts major, appeared recently in "A Christmas Carol" at NMSU. She won an acting award at EPCC for her role as Andromache in "The Trojan Women." She plays Susan and Angela, two very different young women. Matthew Esqueda (Daisy) was recently seen at the Black Box Theatre in "Big Love" and at LCCT in the 2008 One Act Play Festival. Sherrie Hildreth is a music teacher and sign-language interpreter at Hillrise Elementary School. She plays both Miss Pringle, a teacher, and Kate a woman that Helen meets in the park. She played "Eleanor" in "Big Love" at the Black Box last spring. Her acting career began as Bartholomew, Christopher Columbus' sailing companion, in 1985. She played Stevie Wonder in "A Night at the Grammys" in 1996. Indrani Rauth recently seen at the Black Box Theatre in "Almost Maine," plays Cynthia, a young woman with a dark secret and a great attraction to babies in general and Daisy in particular. Josh Shakra as John, the father in the play, was recently seen in NSTC's "Vincent" and in "A Christmas Carol" at NMSU. Peter Herman designed the sets and lighting and NMSU Theatre Arts student Kiera Quinn designed the costumes. The Stage Manager is Bridie Farmer, Board Operators are Mark Hammersmith and Danny Wade, and Ivy White is Assistant Director.
Cake and champagne will be served following the Friday, February 29 opening night performance.
Artwork by Jane Madrid is on display in thetheatregallery at the Black Box Theatre through March 16. There will be an opening reception for the artist on March 7, in conjunction with the Downtown Ramble from 5 - 7 p.m.
Ending the cycle of abuse
'Baby with the Bathwather' takes parents at their worst
- By Joel Courtney, Las Cruces Bulletin
Have you ever thought your parents did a bad job raising you? Nagged too much? Didn't pay enough attention? Showered you with abuse? Well, there's always someone who's got it worse off than that, and that person is Daisy, the focus of the play "Baby with the Bathwater" by Christopher Durang and directed by Ceil Herman for the No Strings Theatre Company.
An intensely dark and slightly silly comedy, "Baby with the Bathwater" starts with young parents John (Josh Shakra) and Helen (Katie Armijo) on their first day home from the hospital with their new baby. Things begin to spiral downward from the moment they come through the door. In addition to not knowing the sex of their child, the couple seems completely unprepared for the demands of raising a child. The couple also fights constantly, which is compounded by the fact that Helen is manipulative and verbally abusive and that John is at least addicted to alcohol and Quaaludes, if not more.
Coming to their rescue (sort of) is the psychotic nanny, Nanny (Wynne Broms), who manages to occasionally provide some real parenting before screaming at or throwing the baby.Before finding out they have a son (at around age 12), John and Helen settle on the name Daisy and raise their child as a girl.
Daisy has a particularly rough childhood, from getting kidnapped and nearly killed by a bus to learning from his mother that the way to deal with problems is to lay on the floor and not move or speak.
Most of young Daisy's time is spent in the laundry basket pretending to be an inanimate object with spurts of running quickly, usually in front of a bus.
After what can only be described as tragic developmental years, the story fast-forwards to a damaged child going through school and into adulthood. Daisy (Matthew Esqueda) is trying to work through issues with a therapist, but it seems hopeless. Sadly, he spends a lot of time rationalizing his life and his parents' actions and resigning himself to a lifetime of madness.
The story serves as a funhouse mirror to a true problem of the modern era, that while obtaining a driver's license has an age requirement and a competency test, anyone can become a parent with little to no oversight.
Even poor Daisy almost gets help several times, from mothers in the park and teachers in his school, but something always gets in the way of the child's best interest, sadly indicative of another modern problem. Thankfully, there is a glimmer of hope by the story's end, which allows one to leave the theater with a smile.
The acting is delightful from the lunatics that surround Daisy. Armijo and Shakra have a blast screaming, going comatose and drinking through the evening.
Their happy-go-lucky attitudes make it easier to not feel bad as they destroy a child's life. Broms is a ball of fire on the stage: running, seducing, screaming and anything else that catches her fancy. Her energy is palpable and brings a certain level of excitement and terror to each scene she's in. Esqueda, although absent from more than two-thirds of the performance, is wonderfully snarky as the damaged Daisy. From time spent in therapy wearing a dress to spending another birthday consoling his deranged parents, Esqueda delivers every line with a smooth cadence of resigned frustration.
All in all, "Baby with the Bathwater" is a social commentary disguised as a wacky play about crazy people. There are numerous laugh-out-loud moments that keep the mood light amidst dark subject matter, so it should provide equal fare for those looking for a night of comedy or those seeking an introspective drama.
No seating plan has been posted.