Paula Vogel's play "And Baby Makes Seven" was originally unsuccessful. After its initial production in 1984, she deemed it her "Scottish play", allegedly because of harsh homophobic reception. The "gay family play" tells the story of Anna and Ruth, a lesbian couple who conceive a child with their gay male friend Peter. In the last few days before the three embark on parenthood as a ménage à trois, they try to rid their home of three imaginary children. Purpleman Theater's production is the first time the play has seen the stage since the mid 90s.
The children -- Cecil the prodigy, the mysteriously French Henri, and a feral child named Orphan -- are the psychological byproducts of Ruth and Anna's arrested emotional relationship. They are instrumental to the couple's communication with each other and with Peter. Although Vogel has been criticized for her arguably simple employment of Freud's id, ego, and superego for the basis of the children's characters, the three are dynamic and, at times, disturbing. The intentionally underdeveloped parents fade into the background, giving way to their imaginary children, whose murders -- and subsequent resurrections -- are the emotional core of the play.
Constance Zaytoun (Anna, Cecil) and Susan Bott (Ruth, Henri, Orphan) are charmingly stagy in their portrayals of the children. Witnessing a grown woman playing a feral child dying in a rabid fit with all the verbal frills of a Shakespearean suicide should intrigue you. Once you see it, you won't forget it: it's grotesque enough to leave an impression, yet clever enough to keep you wondering about the true source of the scene's power. It isn't obvious.
At The New Ohio Theater through April 12th