The Play About the Baby, Edward Albee's first new play since Three Tall Women won the Pulitzer Prize and his career was revitalized, opens Sept. 1 at London's Almeida Theatre. Rehearsals began the week of July 20; previews started Aug. 27.
Albee has talked of The Play About the Baby for several years now. The play's title seems to indicate that the work is a sequel of sorts to Albee's best-known work, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. The crucial third-act revelation of that 1962 work was that the offspring of dueling couple Martha and George is a product of their imagination. However, a press spokesperson for the Almeida said the new drama was not a sequel and that its four characters were not the same quartet that appears in Woolf. A press release describes Baby as "a compelling, mysterious and comic play which explores the relationship between four people crossing generation and gender."
No other information on the plot could be learned.
Frances de la Tour, Alan Howard, Rupert Penry-Jones and Zoe Waites star in Baby. Howard Davies directs. The design team includes: Tim Hatley, designing both the set and costumes; Associate Costume Designer Jackie Galloway; Lighting Designer Mark Henderson; and Sound Designer John A. Leonard.
Following the long-time practice of Arthur Miller, Albee has chosen of unveil his new play in London, where critical judgement of his work has been generally more favorable than in the U.S. Following the tremendous success of Woolf, Albee's career began a slow, but steady decline in critical and popular tastes. His work was rarely produced in New York after 1983's The Man With Three Arms, the last in a series of Broadway flops. His fortunes were suddenly revived when the Signature Theatre Company, an Off-Broadway troupe dedicated to playwrights, presented a season of his work in 1993-94. During that same season, the Vineyard Theatre staged the American premiere of Three Tall Women, which eventually transferred to a long Off-Broadway run, winning many awards, including the Pulitzer. Since then, Albee's A Delicate Balance has been revived successfully on Broadway, while London has seen new mountings of both Balance and Woolf.
-- By Robert Simonson