As part of its edgy and exciting POTS at the Works series, Playhouse on the Square has dusted off And Baby Makes Seven, a delightfully dark and seldom-produced slice of juvenilia by Paula Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of How I Learned To Drive. Vogel's black comedy follows a trio of New Yorkers dealing with an unusual problem. In order to experience the joys of parenthood, Ruth and Anna, a lesbian couple, and Peter, the gay father of their unborn child, must kill Orphan, Cecil, and Henri, three adorable but imaginary children who are dominating their lives.
From its first performance in 1984, frustrated critics have misdescribed Vogel's hilariously theatrical play as a half-baked comedy about gay parenting and (maybe) psychosis. In this case, however, the joke is actually on the critics. Overtly borrowing plot points and dialogue from a hodgepodge of literary and cinematic sources, including Shakespeare, Peter Pan, and The Exorcist, And Baby Makes Seven is actually a far less controversial meditation on "killing your babies" — a scary-sounding metaphor used by authors and directors to describe the often painful process of eliminating precious, personal flourishes from their work in order to improve and advance the narrative. It's a laugh-laden creative-writing lesson that's sure to provoke discussion and furrow the brows of more literal-minded observers.
Kyle Hatley, whose previous work includes Romeo and Juliet at Germantown Community Theatre and Seascape at Theatre Memphis' Next Stage, directs a trio of Memphis' finest young actors — Erin McGhee, Sheana Tobey, and Greg Pragel — in this funny, confounding, and occasionally touching production.
"And Baby Makes Seven" at TheatreWorks through January 27th. For show times and ticket information, go to playhouseonthesquare.org.