Along with another dimwitted accomplice, Shelley (Taylor Bahin), an ex-con who’s prone to seeing visions and hearing voices that no one else can, are basically holding hostage the expectant mother, Monica (Sarina Montgomery), until her best friend Julie (Madison Welch) arrives on the scene, suspecting foul play and looking to rescue her.
Thorpe’s nonsensical comedic premise doesn’t mesh particularly well with eventual attempts to get serious with a few convoluted backstories. One of them involves a falling-out between Julie and Monica over an old boyfriend and vague references to a possible rape. Another concerns Reba’s fall from grace as a substance-abuse counselor and her loss of faith after she crashes her car into the side of a church, killing a couple of passengers.
Production values have never been a strong suit for the economically budgeted Essential. In this instance, Gabrielle Stephenson's scenic design is a cut above the norm (dig that fireplace), and lighting designer Harley Gould and sound designer Kacie Willis collaborate effectively on a few supernatural flourishes here and there.
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Under the guidance of founding artistic director Peter Hardy, the 20-year-old company’s primary focus has always been on finding and fostering local playwrights by giving them an opportunity to have their work realized on stage. Some of the shows are invariably more successful than others, but it’s an admirable endeavor, for better or worse.
In the case of “Babyshower for the Antichrist,” maybe it’s true what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.
“Babyshower for the Antichrist”
Through Aug. 25 (in rotating repertory with "Slaying Holofernes"). 8 p.m. Aug. 5, 8, 10, 17, 20 and 22-23; 2 p.m. Aug. 11 and 25; 7 p.m. Aug. 18; 10 a.m. Aug. 23. $10-$25. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. SW, Atlanta. essentialtheatre.com.
Bottom line: A bit of a botch.