Photo: Carol Rosegg
The ultrasound showed only a smudge, and now the real baby is no better defined--a large head, one eye, one leg, probably a girl. Her mother cannot even look at her; her father dotes on her or perhaps on an image of her in his mind. Written by Emmy-winner Rachel Axler and directed by Pam MacKinnon, Smudge attempts to combine comedy and tragedy, surrealism and realism, but it lacks the delicate touch necessary to make that combination work. The audience I saw it with fell silent after the first 10 minutes or so following some awkward guffawing from a handful of people. If Axler wants to examine women's fear of not bonding with their child and/or of having an unhealthy child, it might have been more effective to write a baby with at least a few human attributes to anchor the story to reality. And the pseudo-Exorcist touches add little but confusion. The cast, particularly Cassie Beck, is excellent and gets as much out of the uneven script as is there to be gotten.