By Jacqui Rêgo; Directed by Sasha Brätt
Part of the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.27.15
VENUE #5: The Celebration of Whimsy, 21 Clinton Street
by Sarah Weber on 8.18.15
Jacqui Rêgo and Chris Cornwell in Baby Hubris. Photo by Bailey Carr.
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for a show that’s fun yet thoughtful, and you happen to have a penchant for mythology, Baby Hubris could be a great fit for you.
The only thing more impossible than living in NYC is dating in NYC. Mix this with hallucinations and cameo appearances by mythological Greek characters and you have Jacqui Rêgo’s Baby Hubris. And, yes, there is a baby who sometimes enlightens us with infinite wisdom about life—magical realism at its most quintessential.
The story unpacks the topsy-turvy relationship between Leslie (Rêgo) and Wyatt (Chris Cornwell), both equally headstrong in their determination to not fall in love with each other. Leslie is a writer plagued by a perpetual stream of questions for which she has absolutely no filter. They just stumble out of her, sometimes betraying the independent, thick-skinned woman she wants to be. She does not need eye-candy artistic cowboys like Wyatt, or even love for that matter. Likewise, Wyatt is content with his hipster musician’s life replete with weed, the three-headed Cerberus (Rob Brinkmann) he’s convinced smokes with him, and one-night-stands. So, romance is supposed to be out of the question for both. But like all Greek epics, hubris trips us when we least expect.
After months of sleeping together and denying their actual feelings, Leslie finds out she’s pregnant the night of Wyatt’s show. Instead of telling him right then, fear drives her into solitude. When they finally meet again one year later, Leslie clumsily reveals their six-month-old son Jack (also Chris Cornwell) as well as her hallucinated guru, the long-dead child expert Dr. Benjamin Spock (Brinkmann). While figuring out how to raise a baby together, the stubborn couple also learns how to finally fall in love with each other.
Rêgo’s story cleverly weaves together different myths to create one cohesive story. It seems Wyatt views the relationship as similar to the myth of Eros and Psyche, while Leslie fears it’s more like one of Zeus’ endless conquests. The actors' various nuances is a testament to how closely they have been working with both Rêgo’s text and with each other. Pay close attention and you’ll see an underlying tenderness during Leslie and Wyatt’s many arguments even when mercilessly criticizing their worst flaws.
Sasha Brätt’s directing aptly makes the show’s magical realism an integral cornerstone of the play. Ensuring the most fantastical elements flow with its realistic ones helps keep the audience’s attention, especially after Rêgo’s dialogue slips into rambling, sometimes repetitive, speeches. Though it makes sense for Leslie to lose herself in her questions and her poetry, Brinkmann’s magical characters and Cornwell’s hilarious interpretation of a six-month-old often are a relief.
(Baby Hubris plays at VENUE #5: The Celebration of Whimsy (aka The C.O.W.), 21 Clinton Street, through August 27, 2015. Performances are Sat 8/15 at 2; Sun 8/16 at 9:30; Thu 8/20 at 2:30; Mon 8/24 at 7; and Thu 8/27 at 7. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at fringenyc.org. For more information visit www.babyhubris.com.)