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The Baby Blues

by Drew Hayden Taylor

Look out Norm Foster! Drew Hayden Taylor is nipping at your heels with The Baby Blues. Like so many of Foster’s plays, this one should be right at home in summer theatres across the country.

In this comedy, two characters (one middle-aged and one young), make surprising discoveries about their parentage. Summer, a wide-eyed and enthusiastic student of anthropology who has just discovered that she is 1364 native, is the butt of much of the humour in this play; her pretensions are skewered in almost every scene. Summer tells Skunk, a young dancer, that she wants to atone for the sins “of the oppressive white majority.” Sensing her naiveté, Skunk suggests she join him for a morning swim in what he calls “Mother Earth’s lake,” implying that it might be a way for her to atone. The reality is that he is intent on their being naked together.

The spirit of the trickster is present in every scene, resulting in some funny confusion and a lot of groan-inducing wordplay. “Oh, you can write!” says Jenny, an organizer of the powwow, as Noble, an over-the-hill competitor at 38, fills out his entry form. “Yeah, but my left is better,” he replies.

All good farces have repeated behaviour patterns. Each major discovery results in Noble falling flat on his back, while Amos, an elder and food vendor, keeps offering native wisdom in the form of “Fortune Scones” – bannock “with little philosophical Indian sayings in the middle.” The “vision quest in a bun” wisdom ranges from Barbra Streisand’s “People who need people are the luckiest people,” to the anonymously authored “Life is a circle. Try not to get lost.”

Although The Baby Blues is a comedy about taking parenthood seriously, to say it packs a message would be to overburden its humour. Taylor says in his introduction that comedy is his response to “many decades of seeing the media highlight the image of the ‘tragic’ or ‘stoic’ Indian.” Taylor’s humour also fuels a well-crafted and enjoyable play that deserves to be seen.