The title of a play usually permits one to anticipate its content. However, in The Bald Soprano, nobody sings and no head is bald. In most plays, words are chosen to make the strongest possible impact. In The Bald Soprano, language flows independently from meaning. A play has a plot and at times subplots. The Bald Soprano does not. It is subtitled an “anti-play,” and that is true.
The scene is the English living room of an English couple, the Smiths. Mr. Smith reads the newspaper. Mrs. Smith comments on the dinner they just had, as if her husband had not been there; she praises yogurt, which is good for the stomach, “appendicitis, and apotheosis.” Mr. Smith remarks that a good doctor must die with his patient. He announces the death of Bobby Watson; the same name, repeated thirty times, is applied to all the members of Bobby’s extended family.
The rest of the play is in keeping with this introductory segment. Mary, the maid, introduces the Martins. A long conversation, punctuated by “What a coincidence!,” permits the Martins to deduce that the Smiths are husband and wife. The doorbell rings three times. Nobody is there when Mrs. Smith opens the door. She concludes that every time the doorbell rings, there is nobody there. When Mr. Smith opens the door, the Fire Chief enters; he is in search of fires to extinguish. Various fables are told. Ambiguous statements about fire are made, while Mary throws...
(The entire section is 491 words.)