The Electric Baby

Available in Library

When a young man is killed in a car accident, a group of fractured souls encounter a magical dying baby and begin to rewrite the stories of their lives. Folk tales and folklore weave throughout this darkly comic story of sad endings, strange beginnings and the unlikely people that get you from one place to the next.

Antoinette LaVecchia as Natalia at Two River Theater Co., directed by May Adrales
Lucy DeVito in Two River Theater production directed by May Adrales
Laurie Klatcher in Quantum Theatre's production, directed by Daniella Topol
Oberon Adjepong and Lizbeth Mackay in Two River Theater production directed by May Adrales.
Nick Lehane and Robin Abramson in Quantum Theatre's production, directed by Daniella Topol

Read Sample

NATALIA SITS BY THE BASSINET.
SOUND: a soothing lullaby mixes with the loud rhythmic hiss of an oxygen concentrator. NATALIA sits knitting/crocheting in a chair next to a bassinet from which a warm light emanates. The bassinet is covered in creamcolored knitting rather than the usual ruffled cotton. Out of the bassinet erupt several wires, also covered in cream-colored knitting, that run across the floor and disappear. Suddenly, Natalia spits in her left hand. She then wipes her right index finger on the bottom of her shoe and mixes the dirt with the spit in her hand. She wipes the mixture on the baby’s forehead, bends down and mutters to the child. She looks up, notices the audience, smiles, and begins to speak.

NATALIA
(thick Romanian accent)
Try not to talk too much. Is not good to wake the baby. Needs too sleep. Babies beautiful when they sleep, no? Trick is not to mess with that.

She knits for a while.

NATALIA
So, which one of you is going to drive everybody crazy with the coughing, eh? Seriously. You? Maybe? Maybe a little, yeah? Tonight, go home, feel sorry for bothering all the nice peoples who sits by you. Then, take pair of white socks, dips them in whiskey, put hands inside. (She crosses her arms over her chest) Sleeps like this. You wake up, no cough. Next time do this before you go to theater.

She rocks the bassinet and in Romanian tells the baby about dipping socks in whiskey to cure a cough.

NATALIA
Daca ai o tuse, înmoi o pereche de sosete albe în whiskey, apoi le pui pe mîini ci dormi cu ele. Cînd te trezesti, nu vei mai tusi. Shh. Anybody little bit stinky? Not you, stinky. I hope. (sniffs bassinet) All good. Seriously, someone feeling stinky? Don’t have to raise hand, we know which one you are. Trust me. Stinky person, this one for you as they say, free of charge. Take two potatoes, put in fridge. Let gets cold, then peel potatoes and put one under each arm like so. Rotate couple of times until room temperature. Do two times a day for something like four days. Armpits will turn black. Don’t freak out, is temporary. This is toxins, you know, coming out. When toxins gone, smell gone too. Seriously, don’t use the antiperspirant, has aluminum, cause cancer. Try potato instead.

Natalia tells the baby in Romanian not to use anti-perspirant because it causes cancer.

NATALIA
Scumpo, nu folosi anti-perspirant niciodata, faci cancer. Oh, look who’s waking up. (to baby) You want to say the next one? No? Okay. What? Which one? Ah yes, this one is good. (to audience) Tell this one, he says: if you have headache, put the banana peel on the forehead. Maybe fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. Headache gone. Seriously. If nothing else, when peoples laugh at you for having banana peel on the forehead, you forgets you have headache. I joke, I joke. But banana peel is good remedy. Seriously. Now, please, the ringtone you have chosen for your small electronic device is maybe only cute and charming for you. Is probably good idea to turn it off now, no? Also, wait until the end to have to pee, otherwise bothers everybody when you get up. Yeah? Next time maybe skip giant coffee with the whip creams, eh? For coffee, one should drink only one cup, no sugar. Then everybody not so fat, not so angry, everybody sleeps, America is happy end-of-story. Why I tell you these things? I don’t bloody know. You have child, you remember these things. You want to tell them whats you know. You think maybe it will make life easier for them. They won’t listen, but they will know. I don’t bloody know. Maybe I will stop talking and listen. (To baby) You would like that, eh?

VALET PARKING.
HELEN is waiting outside an apartment building. After a moment REED exits the building juggling Helen’s coat, purse and a piece of cake on a party plate wrapped in plastic.

REED
Jesus Helen you bolted out of there-

HELEN
I can’t find the attendant.

REED
What happened?

HELEN
Nothing.

REED
I came out of the john, and people said you left.

HELEN
Do you have the ticket?

REED
Something happened. They’re opening presents, I go to the bathroom, I come out-

HELEN
Where do they park the cars here?

REED
Wait for the guy, Helen.

HELEN
(with disdain)
Valet parking.

REED
Did someone say something to you?

HELEN
This is Pittsburgh, who needs valet parking?

REED
It’s downtown.

HELEN
So?

Cast Requirements

3 men
3 women

Set Description

unit or flexible set

Honors

Francesca Primus Prize (2013) NYFA Fellowship (2013) Women in Arts and Media Collaboration Award (2011); Playwrights Realm Fellowship (2011)

Press

"Sometimes even a critic is charmed into analytical silence. No, make that enthralled and also warned. Not that I can't think of ways to explain The Electric Baby, but even if I were right, it might dull both its delicacy and its strength."
-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Press

"An adult pop-up book, with just that mix of fun and surprise."
-The Week/magazine

"While it delves deeply into loss, Zadravec's rich, lyrical play is far from a dirge. Inflected with humor and folklore, it expounds on the stories, memories and relationships that become a refuge when staying up nights with a sick baby or lying in a hospital bed awaiting surgery results."
-The Star-Ledger

"The Magic That Storytelling Can Do: The imperceptible magic that pervades human existence and the power of myth to assuage sorrow are invoked by the playwright Stefanie Zadravec as she entwines the lives of strangers in The Electric Baby, a gently touching new drama. A mix of expressionism and magical realism... The compassion in Ms. Zadravec's writing is obvious."
-The New York Times

"Dazzling and original: The Electric Baby is a richly theatrical new play that makes its own rules."
-Talkin' Broadway

Production and Development History

Productions: Quantum Theatre, Pittsburgh 2012 Directed by Daniella Topol
Two River Theater Company, Red Bank, NJ, 2013, directed by May Adrales

Development: Theatre of the First Amendment - First Light 2010, Playwrights Realm Fellowship 2011, Play Penn 2011