The Electric Baby
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Jesus Helen you bolted out of there-
I can’t find the attendant.
I came out of the john, and people said you left.
Do you have the ticket?
Something happened. They’re opening presents, I go to the bathroom, I come out-
Where do they park the cars here?
Wait for the guy, Helen.
Did someone say something to you?
This is Pittsburgh, who needs valet parking?
unit or flexible set
Francesca Primus Prize (2013) NYFA Fellowship (2013) Women in Arts and Media Collaboration Award (2011); Playwrights Realm Fellowship (2011)
"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."
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