If tonight’s world premiere of Michael Mitnick’s “sad comedy” Babs the Dodo is as good as the script is (got my hands on a preview copy), Washington Ensemble Theatre should have a packed house for the next month. Young playwright and Yale Drama grad Mitnick creates a lovable lead in Babs Gillespie: a polished ShopMore Network saleslady with “a heart of 14k gold” who desperately wants you, too, to own a rhodium-plated guardian angel pendant. But Gillespie’s 50th birthday approaches and she’s coming dangerously close to her TV expiration date, as determined by her jerk-of-a-boss Jocelyn—a 33-year-old tyrant straight out of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. See, Jocelyn only wants closers. And Babs doesn’t sell like she used to.
You feel for Babs as she searches for love and validity in the face of “extinction,” and can’t help but be impressed by the whiplash Mitnick’s script gives you. It’s sharp, quick, smart—and in the spirit of the Hasty Pudding musicals Mitnick used to write as a Harvard undergrad, silly fun. No one wants to be a “gangrenous extra baby foot on the body” of their company. But has a midlife crisis ever sounded that colorful? Looking forward to seeing this on stage.
Babs the Dodo is at Washington Ensemble Theatre through Mar 14.