David Lindsey-Abaire was challenged to create a work that was different from all his others, one that dealt with something he could not imagine happening to him—something that would be the greatest hardship he would ever face in his life. What he ended up with was the Pulitzer Prize winning play, Rabbit Hole, which focuses on the horrifying reality of parents losing a child and what happens to them and their relationship afterwards.
Stefanie Zadravec wrote about very similar things in her play The Electric Baby, which is being produced as a world premiere by Quantum Theatre at The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh. In her 90-minute, episodic play, Zadravec cleverly intertwines the lives of eight people in their search for their place in the world. Being set in and inspired by Pittsburgh, with familiar street names and full of local idioms, it’s likely to please the audiences at The Waldorf School as they feel almost connected to the story and its complex characters. However, the themes of this play are truly universal and offer a sense of global community, allowing it to be performed anywhere with the same effect it has in Pittsburgh. The two storytellers of this play, Natalia (Robin Abramson) and Ambimbola (Monteze Freeland) are a couple not from Pittsburgh, but who chose separately to create a life here and found each other. These two people, from Europe and Africa, demonstrate the universality of the plays themes—that you are never alone and whatever struggles you are facing, you can overcome them with the help of those around you.
Quantum prides itself as being one of the most creative and forward thinking theatre companies in our area, and they achieve this by producing their shows in non-traditional, or “found spaces.” The Waldorf School was no different. As patrons picked up tickets they were invited to explore the different rooms of the schoolhouse. Guests are instructed to follow the crocheted streamer through the building finally leading you to the performance space, a room adorned with hand painted murals, paper lanterns and a beautiful stained glass chandelier. The stage, two raised platforms, is backed by enormous windows looking out into the yard of the school, separating the murals into sections. Although each mural is different from the others, they have a connecting feature. One mural flows into the next by a crocheted streamer, making the unrelated scenes stand out as one continuous piece of scenery. The show’s director, Daniella Topol, uses the two sections of stage to provide distance between the main story of the Casey family and that of the mother with the ‘electric baby.’ As the show progresses a bridge is erected connecting Natalia with the other characters both physically in space and literally by plot.
Overall, Stefanie Zadravec’s world premiere of The Electric Baby was a wonderful night of theater. Daniella Topol, takes Zadravec’s characters through a though provoking journey. And in the end, patrons leave the Waldorf School with a sense that they have gained something, knowledge that they aren’t alone. With a story that seems to take place in our backyards, audiences experience the interconnection of the universe and its people.
Stefanie Zadrevec’s The Electric Baby runs now through Sunday at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh. Show times are at 8:00 PM except for Sunday which is at 7:00 PM. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at ShowClix or by calling 1.888.71.TICKETS.
What is it?
The Electric Baby
By Stefanie Zadrevec
Directed by Daniella Topol
When is it?
March 29-April 22
Where is it?
The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh
201 S. Winebiddle Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15224