People do autobiographical shows all the time; locally, Jack Gallagher has turned it into an art form. Most successful plays of this type present the artist’s individual experience as something broader that almost everyone can identify with. Recent examples include Gallagher’s What He Left, about dealing with his father’s passing, and Katie Rubin’s Insides Out!, about gaining control of her addictive tendencies.
Marie Bain takes a different path for her solo show, Baby Killer. She’s been on a long, strange trip that few of us have taken—a celebrated legal battle involving her firing from a local Catholic high school because she’d previously volunteered at a Planned Parenthood clinic, escorting women past heckling demonstrators. After Bain was given the heave-ho from her teaching job at the behest of Sacramento’s Catholic bishop, she found herself in the headlines, hired a lawyer and got an out-of-court settlement. Bain even witnessed a bit of poetic justice when the activist parent who targeted her was subsequently banned from the high school.
Bain has turned this very weird experience into a one-woman show that sometimes provokes laughter and, at other times, outrage. It’s unabashedly agenda-driven, much more so than most solo efforts. She puts the audience in her shoes and relates her story with headlines, anti-abortion pamphlets, and a little bit of singing and dancing. She names names, lampoons those who did her wrong and fights fire with fire by quoting from the Bible. (She thumps on it, too.) At the end, she even stands on a plainly labeled “Soap Box” to drive her conclusion home.
Bain tells her story with humor, streaked with a degree of (understandable) bitterness and irony, and infused with “righteous” indignation. The show has a workshop feel; some sections feel a bit rough. One suspects she’s still refining it. And it’s bare bones in technical terms: minimally lit, with no set and the simplest of props, staged in a gym-like multipurpose space at the YWCA.