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Taking Care of Baby

  • Theater, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Taking Care of Baby. Manhattan Theatre Club (see Off Broadway). By Dennis Kelly. Directed by Erica Schmidt. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 10mins. One intermission.

Taking Care of Baby: in brief

A woman is accused of murdering her children in this quasidocumentary drama by Dennis Kelly (who wrote the cleverly nasty book for Broadway's Matilda). Erica Schmidt directs the American premiere, with a cast that includes Margaret Colin and Reed Birney.

Taking Care of Baby: theater review by David Cote

Dennis Kelly pulls off quite a feat in his smart, punchy Taking Care of Baby. The action revolves around Donna (Kristen Bush), a mentally unstable young mother accused of murdering, on separate occasions, her two children. We don’t ever learn if Donna is guilty, but the true marvel is that we don’t actually care. Using a pseudo-documentary approach, Kelly instead keenly dissects the ethical corruption of various systems around her: political, medical and journalistic.

Known here as the book writer for Matilda, the English playwright toys with our trust and moral certainty. One of his cleverest fictions is Leeman-Keatley Syndrome, a disorder in which perceived social hypocrisy leads to violent tendencies. A psychiatrist (Reed Birney) makes a persuasive case for it, but the play subverts LKS rather ingeniously. Taking Care of Baby premiered in England six years ago, but locutions and locations have been Americanized smoothly. Director Erica Schmidt steers a strong cast through the material, whose veneer of interview-transcript realism is a front for barbed and insinuating satire.—Theater review by David Cote

THE BOTTOM LINE: A fake doc focuses on an embattled mom.

Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote

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