Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee is a man who speaks his mind. So if you're going to talk with him about the U.S. premiere of his latest work, The Play About the Baby, there are several key rules to follow. First of all, don't ask him to describe it. "Four characters, two acts, one set. There you go."
Don't ask him how this play differs from his other works. "I don't know. It's about different people doing different things."
Don't call his work absurdist. "I don't know what that term means."
The Play About the Baby
Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue. $19 to $35. For tickets, call (713)228-8421.
opens Wednesday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. Previews are Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 9, and Tuesday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. The play runs through May 6. Showtimes: Sunday through Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.; matinees Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.
And for God's sake, whatever you do, don't ask him about the baby. "Don't! Don't talk about the baby, please. You'll ruin it!"
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Albee will, however, give his thoughts on parenthood. "There should be two levels of marriage," he says. "Sort of a trial marriage, where you're not allowed to have kids until you have some sense that maybe the marriage is going to last for a while."
Any relation to his play -- you know, the one about the baby? "No, no. We're just off on an interesting subject," says the playwright, who will also direct this play, which the Alley's Web site calls "part puzzle, part Vaudeville." So why is it that Albee seems so willing to talk about almost anything, except the play he's promoting? "Here's the thing. Every time you go to a play, you should sit there and pretend it's the first play you've ever seen. You shouldn't go in there and think, 'Let's see, I've seen seven of Albee's plays. I'm going to do a comparative paper while I'm sitting here watching it to see how it relates to the other plays, and seeing what the thematic connections are.' "
Still, there must be something, anything, that he can say that will give people some idea of what they can expect to see. When asked, Albee pauses, as if making sure to choose his words carefully. "It's a play about a baby."