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VA Players make a splash in “Baby with the Bathwater”

The second show in VA Players’ Reading Series is stunning, emotional

The Virginia Players presented "Baby with the Bath Water" at Helms Theater Tuesday evening in the second show in their Reading Series.

The production — part of an effort by the Drama Department's student liaison group to bring lesser-known plays to life through rehearsed readings — brought actors to the stage, dressed in street clothes and lined in a row. As they held their scripts, with no props, they looked almost unprepared — until they began reading.

Even without memorized lines, without costumes and without staging, the actors were able to transport the 15-member audience into the play's narrative.

"Baby with the Bathwater" was written by Christopher Durang and premiered in the 1980s. Third-year College student Annika Schunn, who directed the reading, describes the play as "a sinisterly hilarious take on 'parenthood.’”

The two-act play tells the story of two unprepared and unfit parents’ experience raising a son, exploring the child’s life from infancy (where a fight about names almost brings about a divorce), to adolescence (where the child, presented as a girl, lies on the ground refusing her mother's requests until attempting to throw herself under a bus), to college (where the audience learns the lead is, in fact, a boy — his parents just never bothered to check) to adulthood (when the main character is married and experiencing the beginning of life with his own newborn baby).

This play examines heavy themes such as depression, attempted suicide, psychological escape and unfulfilled longing.

"Can we ever escape the weight of our childhoods — the unexpected chaos and unimagined shortcomings of our parents?" Schunn said.

Overall, the student cast impressed. Second-year College student Samantha Heitsch stunned in her role as the emotionally-unstable mother. Her eyes glistened with tears as she read opposite first-year College student Ali Cheraghpour. Second-year College student Nick Fenton garnered heartfelt sympathy as the innocent son, trapped in his parents' madness, while third-year College student Nora Zahn and second-year College student Meg Loftus showed versatility in their portrayal of a variety of characters.

The Virginia Players will return in their upcoming Lab Series performanced, "The Pride" on Nov. 24.

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