First adapted from a much longer play by Tennessee Williams originally titled 27 Wagons Full Of Cotton, the play became a film Baby Doll, directed by Elia Kazan, starring Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach and Karl Malden. Tough shoes to fill for any director. Filled with sexual innuendo and a somewhat unsavoury relationship between a child bride, Baby Doll and, her much older husband, Archi Lee, the play explores questions on morality on many levels. When a third character, a rival cotton mill owner, Silva Vacarro, is smitten by Baby Doll the plot becomes even more scandalous. Sex scenes are never shown but are implied as the psychological games of cat and mouse between the three main players begin. The film, which debuted in 1956, was a scandal and was banned in many countries having offended the Catholic church due to its erotic nature.
Director Shaun Rennie is directing a new adaptation this time by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann. Being a sought after director, having won a Best Director Of The Year award for the musical Rent in 2016 and, being nominated for Wicked which he has also directed, Shaun is well used to working with productions that explore the dark side. Rennie sees the play as, “a long seduction seeking revenge which ends in awakening and emancipation.”
In reference to the ‘Me Too’ movement, he asks how lasting the changes made are going to be? Rennie wants the audience to ask the same. According to Rennie, “The Ensemble is the perfect theatre for this production because it is intimate and voyeuristic allowing the audience to be so close that they too feel emancipated.” The strong cast includes Kate Cheel, Maggie Dence, Socrates Otto and Jamie Oxenbould.
Until Nov 16. Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall St, Kirribilli. $38-$78+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.ensemble.com.au
By Renee Lou Dallow