Baby Bottle Conversation: A Dangerous Cocktail

So Tim, first of all, what is the basic premise of the play?

TF: On a superficial level, two couples meet to discuss an incident between their children at school. Any perceptive reader will acknowledge it’s similarity to ‘Gods of Carnage’, a living room drama. On a deeper level, it’s a look at what living room dramas are, and it takes elements from plays like ‘Carnage’ and ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’

It goes without saying that I’d want to put my own twist on it. Just like Meat (A previous play of Tim’s which went to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe) was inspired by dinner room dramas.  The biggest diversion is perhaps that there can’t be sexual tension between the couples. There’s gender tension, but with two gay couples it can’t be sexual.

MvS: So the issues that come out have to be within the couples themselves.

When did you start writing Baby Bottle Cosmo ?

TF: I started writing it back in January, drafting it very quickly in one afternoon.

Hang on, ONE afternoon?

TF: I tend to have things brewing in my head for a long time, then they just come out like PPLLLLLHHHHHH. (Note from the Editor: this is written phonetically.)

It started off with a gay couple and a straight couple, then it became two gay couples, and then I thought I’m missing something… so I put in a random stoned woman. And then everything fell into place!

Tell me about this mysterious stoned woman.

TF: Ah, she’s mysterious. She pops in, she pops out.

What sort of relation does she have to the couples?

All: Spoilers!

TF: Ambiguous.

FH: You have to decide that for yourself.

TF: I wanted a character to completely shatter the dynamic, whenever she comes in she disrupts everything, she’s a really odd influence on the play.

How did you get into feeling like couples?

FH: Well, me and Ed slept together.

MvS: Made for a very awkward next rehearsal.

EF: Or wasn’t it during a rehearsal?

TF: On this very couch…

EF: Nah, we did go on double dates though…

Where did you go on your date?

EF: Bella Italia. It was pretty romantic, we drank rosé.

MvS: The guy at the restaurant was so awkward about it, we were seated in the back part, with this massive pillar between our tables. There was literally an awkward pillar in the room. We got drunk…

FH: My, that got lairy.

MvS: It was a Monday as well. (Cue massive disagreement as to which day of the week it was.) It was one of those days that felt like a week…

Because both couples are in turmoil, the relationship you’re trying to build isn’t even necessarily one of love and trust. There has to be the background of that though, you have to know how they ended up being together.

Like the bare bones of a relationship, back when things were good?

FH: That was actually one of the questions Tim asked us to think about, what were your ‘good times’.

MB: How you wound up together.

MvS: I kept imagining I was going to see Tim peeking in through the window.

EF: Wearing a trench coat.

JR: My practise work for the character was to be really drunk, alone.  And taking my clothes off.

FH: She may or may not remove some of her clothes.

TF: We can neither confirm nor deny that clothes are removed.

FH: One of the techniques Tim used to make that aspect of the show more comfortable was doing naked rehearsals with us.

If you guys would feel more comfortable nude, I could cover my eyes or something.

EF: Oh thank God! I hate all those clothed interviews!

MvS: For Scene of the Titans, he directed with just a rugby ball covering his shadoo (Phonetic spelling – Editor)

TF: For Short Captions For Stick Figures (Tim’s most recent play, staged at the beginning of this semester) I did actually remove my penis and put it in a box.

I appear to have forgotten all my planned questions… Umm, were there any major obstacles you had to face in rehearsals?

FH: Yeah, getting me to be gay.

TF: Though the whole point is that you can’t BE gay, it’s just about loosening up and getting comfortable with the idea.

MvS: Using some of those stereotypes that people are used to seeing.

Do you think onstage that your characters do exhibit some of those stereotypes?

FH: Mine does, but I think that’s the point. Frankie is very flamboyant, he likes to perform.

Wears a kimono…

FH: Exactly! So he exhibits a certain kind of stereotype. I had a few dance lessons-

MvS: He’s a beautiful dancer.

JR: The play is also very upfront about these sorts of stereotypes, you are very self-consciously a ‘type’.

FH: Absolutely, I’m really playing those up. You also have someone like Ed’s character, who is gay, but doesn’t exhibit the same kind of behaviour.

TF: There is also Mimi’s character – I wouldn’t say she was uncomfortable with being a lesbian, but it definitely not at the forefront of her character. So she pushes her maternal aspects forward.

MvS: And she tries to make her wife into what she thinks a husband should be, calling her Frank… There’s a level of overcompensation about being proud, she feels just a hint of embarrassment or disappointment in herself that she is who she is.

JR: It’s also worry not just for herself, but on behalf of the child; just because society’s perceptions of traditional family are so different, she worries that this is the right way to raise a child.

TF: When I decided it was going to be two gay couples, I didn’t want to make it gay versus lesbian; I wanted it to be a homo-normative couple versus a hetero-normative couple. So the two gay men don’t prescribe to the traditional mother-father figure setup; whereas Sandra and Frank are very much ‘Mr and Mrs. Carter’.

FS: You do almost forget that it is in fact a lesbian couple. You just ‘assign’ them parental roles. Frankie refers to Frank all the time as ‘He’ and ‘Mister’-

TF: But then that’s not Frankie pushing that definition on her, it’s him acknowledging it.

MvS: And Sandra makes sure that that is our dynamic.

MB: A lot of my small and infrequent insistences that I am in fact female happen at emotional breaks.

So Frank is less than comfortable with this role.

MvS: Frank is resigned to it.

M: The hetero-normative aspect is largely driven by Sandra. Frank understands and empathises, but there is an incredulity level sometimes.

EF: I spend most of the play incredulous. Frankie is perhaps the least confused, though in one sense he is very confused-

FH: Spoilers!

MvS: With all the serious aspects of the play, there is a farcical hint to it.

TF: I do wonder how much people will laugh, or simply be horrified.

JR: It is still a play about parenting, so there are more boundaries, it’s dangerous territory to make it too dark and twisted-

EF: Though Tim has tried.




You can buy tickets from the Byre Theatre here, the play goes up on November 30th & 31stCheck out the Facebook group here

Image courtesy of Tim Foley. Compiled by Laura Francis.