You’d think that anybody with the nerve to write a play about a satanic babysitter would at least have the elementary decency to make it a comedy. This isn’t a comedy. It’s an absolutely serious melodrama by Swiss-born playwright Lukas Bärfuss, translated from the German by Neil Blackadder for Theatre Y. Parents Vera (Katie Stimpson) and Michael (Eric K. Roberts) have joint custody over a seven-year-old. Both are dead set on heading out of town this weekend, lovely Vera to Málaga in the south of Spain for tryst time with Michael’s replacement, gawky hearing-aid inventor Michael to Innsbruck alone for what he calls, huffily, “the biggest ear conference in the world.” The regular nanny has the flu—stakes any higher than these, and the roof would cave in—so enter Alex (Lane Anthony Flores), a film student, who slithers around the stage with his shock of vermillion hair and combat boots, tricks Michael and Vera out of their money, and suggests passing the time while mom and dad are away by “making a film” with their young daughter.
The play ends in a more convincing place than it starts, but by then it’s been a hard road getting there through most of a show’s worth of bickering between Vera and Michael and a lot of clunky video-projection gimmickry. There are moments in Stimpson’s performance that make time stand still, but the role’s stiffness as written doesn’t allow her to sustain them. v