Friday, November 29, 2013

Taking Care of Baby**

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
British playwright Dennis Kelly's faux documentary is now at Manhattan Theatre Club's Studio at Stage II for its New York premiere. An initial advisory that all the dialogue has been lifted from actual transcripts is deliberately garbled a couple of times later, perhaps as a clue that it is all fiction. The play crosscuts between Donna (Kristen Bush), a mother who has been jailed for murder after the death of her two young children; her mother Lynn (Margaret Colin), a politician whose positions change as often as the wind direction; the controversial Dr. Millard (Reed Birney), who has posited a disease that causes oversensitive women to murder their children; and Martin (Francois Battiste), Donna's traumatized former husband. Peripheral characters include Mrs. Millard (Amelia Campbell), Lynn's campaign manager Jim (Ethan Phillips) and an odious, sexually addicted reporter (Michael Crane.) Talking head interviews alternate with reenactments. The acting is top-notch, especially by Bush, Colin and Birney. I wish that the rapid alteration of fragmentary scenes did not diminish the momentum so that none of the individual stories was adequately developed. Despite the fine acting, the play's concept was more interesting than the execution. Erica Schmidt's direction seemed unfocused and uninvolving. Running time: two hours, fifteen minutes including intermission.

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