The Arts

Parenthood Blues: A Smudge on the Family Tree

(Last Updated On: October 12, 2016)


With their soft coos and tiny hands and feet, it’s hard to hate babies—well human babies. But what if you see your baby as a monster? What if it terrifies you more than excites you? What if it seems foreign to you, like a science-fiction character? Using an abstract concept, playwright Rachel Axler asks the tough question, “What if a mother doesn’t immediately bond with her child?”

Of course as excepted from a writer for Parks and Recreation, Axler uses comedy to lighten the mood, using beeps, honks and flashing over baby cries, and adding glowing tubes and the like to represent the disconnect that could happen between a mother and child.

“Smudge is a unique blend of horror and quirky humor,” said Michael Ackerman from Spirit Gum Theatre Co., which will be performing the production next week. “The playwright makes clever use of a creepy, science-fiction element to get us to think about the big questions. What happens if new parents don’t automatically bond with their child? Or, if only one parent bonds, how does the other cope with feelings of jealousy? What kind of strain does it put on a relationship when baby makes three?”

The play follows one young couple who are eagerly anticipating their first baby, but after it arrives they realize it wasn’t at all like what they were expecting. Cast in the production are Spirit Gum alumni Britt Cannino and Latimer Alexander, as well as newcomer Jonathan Furr.

“I think this show is going to catch people off guard,” Ackerman added. “If we do our job right, the hair will be standing up on the back of (the audience’s) necks one minute, and they’ll be laughing the next.”

Wanna go? Spirit Gum Theatre Co. presents Smudge next week, Oct. 21-23, and Oct. 28-30 at Actor’s Group, 843 Reynolda Road. Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information visit