The Baby Dance, Profiles Theatre. Jane Anderson’s play, making its Chicago debut at Profiles, captures the wide and ever-widening gap between the classes in America with humor and insight, laying no blame but presenting the complexities of life on both ends of the economic spectrum. Concerning a wealthy Los Angeles couple seeking to adopt a healthy white baby and a poor couple from a Louisiana trailer park who simply can’t afford to feed another mouth, the play examines the deep issues of what it means to create–and raise–a human being. Yet Anderson never forgets the inherent comedy of pulling together people from such different spheres as they confront each other’s ignorance.
Director Gillian McNally gives the play a flowing, seamless quality, and she’s cast sharp, generous actors who share the stage. Though we learn all the characters’ perspectives, this is essentially a woman’s play; despite their very different worlds, the trailer-park mother, Wanda, and Rachel, a career woman, are the ones who care for the children. Wanda’s husband has little to do with managing the kids, and Rachel’s husband seems to be going through the painful adoptive process for his wife’s sake. Kerry Richlan and Melissa Van Kersen offer moving portraits of Wanda and Rachel, some of the most honest work I’ve seen onstage.
–Gabrielle S. Kaplan