Baby Doll is middle-aged cotton gin owner Archie Lee's 19-year-old virgin wife who has vowed to deny her husband sex until her 20th birthday. Though Archie Lee is consumed with jealousy and desire, the trouble doesn't really begin until he locks horns with business rival Silva Vaccaro. Suspecting that Archie has burned down his gin, Vaccaro exacts Sicilian vengeance upon Archie Lee's child bride.
Baby Doll was one of Williams' most controversial works. When Elia Kazan's 1956 film, starring Karl Malden and Carroll Baker, was released, it caused outrage in America. Cardinal Spellman famously denounced the film from the pulpit of St Patrick's Cathedral in New York.
The British stage production stars Jonathan Cake, as Vaccaro, in his National debut. Well known for his TV and film roles, such as Sir Oswald Mosley in Mosley, Cake's theatre work includes Mill on the Floss for Shared Experience and several RSC productions. Baby Doll is played by Charlotte Emmerson, also making her NT debut. Her theatre work includes The Crucible (national tour). They are joined in the cast by Georgine Anderson, John Marquez, Morris Perry and Ken Shorter.
Baby Doll is directed by Lucy Bailey who has directed operas and music theatre pieces for Wexford Opera Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Glyndebourne Touring Opera and English National Opera. Her theatre productions include The Maid's Tragedy and As You Like It for Shakespeare's Globe. Baby Doll is designed by Bunny Christie with lighting by Chris Davey and music by Django Bates.
This production of Baby Doll follows the National's acclaimed world premiere production last year of Tennessee Williams' 'lost play', Not About Nightingales, which subsequently transferred to Broadway.