“Baby With the Bathwater,” showing at McPherson College Jan. 16 to 18, shows that even terrible parents sometimes get it right, and even a boy named Daisy can make it in the world.
Chris Rakowski, sophomore, McPherson, Kan., will fill the role of Daisy, squeezing broad shoulders into both flowery dresses and formal suits every evening. Rakowski said the play is hilarious, even if it is an uncomfortable sort of humor.
“It’s the kind of funny with nervous laughter,” Rakowski said.
The 1983 play by Christopher Durang follows Helen and John, who are adoring parents but who also have perhaps too much concern for their baby’s privacy. They decide not to check the gender of “Daisy” - a gender-neutral name to their ear. Adding into the chaotic mix is “Nanny” - a twisted Mary Poppins charged with caring for Daisy. Daisy, meanwhile, ends up in therapy - perhaps inevitably.
The witty humor results in laughs at the same time it also raises questions about individual experiences in parenting and being parented.
“’Baby with the Bathwater’ is a dark comedy about how difficult it is to be a parent, and how scary it is to be a baby and a child,” said Jd. Bowman, associate professor of theatre and director and set designer of the play. “The play is written in an absurdist, playful style and, for all its dark topic, has a hopeful ending.”
Josh Hall, sophomore, Kansas City, Kan., plays John - Daisy’s father. The play connects with people from the outset as Daisy’s parents talk lovingly to Daisy as a newborn, he said.
“The first page, you can see that we really want to be good parents, we just don’t know how to go about it,” he said. “I think that’s what’s really going to make audiences connect with the show.”
Kristie Gutierrez, senior, Quinter, Kan., plays the final member of this unusual nuclear family as Daisy’s mother, Helen.
“Even though there are some sexual references and speckled language, there are truths to the messages that the writer is sharing with the audience,” she said. “It is edgy, but I think that whether or not the audience likes it, they will find themselves thinking about the message it has to send.”
Rakowski said he takes a message of hope from “Baby With the Bathwater” - that it’s possible to overcome a difficult youth.
“You could have the worst parents - and in this play they are the worst parents possible - and you can still overcome it and become a decent human being even though it’s a rocky road,” he said.
With a laugh, Hall said he learned a much simpler lesson: “I’m never having kids…”
All shows start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to all shows cost $5 for adults and $3.50 for children ages high school and younger as well as seniors. Reservations may be made by contacting the theatre box office at 620-242-0444 or at [email protected]