The Original Last Wish Baby | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Original Last Wish Baby 

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THE ORIGINAL LAST WISH BABY, Frump Tucker Theatre Company, at Bailiwick Repertory. This play and production deserve each other: in a marriage made in theater hell, Ohio comic book writer William Seebring's tedious script is yoked with Errol McClendon's nitwit staging. Seebring means to mock the media but mistakes the silly and stupid for the satirical. Assorted caricatures of the press indulge in a feeding frenzy over the tawdry "miracle" of a Cleveland baby born without a heart. Then a woman in New Jersey accidentally delivers the missing organ, but when the baby and its heart are reunited, the heart survives and the baby decomposes around it. This half death inspires an "antifuneralist" movement--and just as you'd expect in a comedy that's brain-dead on arrival, the condition of the heart rather than the head determines the life-and-death decision.

A premise thin enough for "Saturday Night Moribund" is padded into thick pabulum. The wit-free dialogue homes in on such subtle targets as blue-collar yahoos, smarmy talk-show hosts, clueless country bumpkins, gay makeover artists, and corpses straight out of Weekend at Bernie's. The little that makes sense is blatantly obvious. And the Frump Tucker ensemble are easily ten times smarter than their roles yet treat jackass jokes as if they were comic writ. It's embarrassing to see someone as talented as Laura Wells reduce herself to a gap-toothed hillbilly harridan from a Hee Haw outtake.

In another piece, picking up the pace might have helped, but that won't work when your 60-minute play is an hour too long.

--Lawrence Bommer

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