MR. NANNY, at Bailiwick Arts Center. If Marc Silvia ever tires of being one of the sharpest actors in town, he can rest assured of success as a stage designer. His deceptively simple living room set for Vicki Quade's Mr. Nanny orchestrates banal details--family photos, potted plants, children's toys, assorted tchotchkes--with painterly precision. As a counterpoint to this hyperrealism, he sets the room's walls back a good ten feet from the window frames and paints squares of sunlight on the wallpaper where the windows would have been. Within these squares are ghostlike suggestions of the outside world. It's as if the sun were inside the house, its beams rendering the walls translucent.
If only Quade's script attained a similar level of complexity and intrigue. Her 75-minute monologue by a lonely gay nanny acting as surrogate father, minister, and therapist in a single-parent family rarely ventures beyond quick one-liners and italicized sentimentality; its unstructured string of anecdotes leaves actor Jimmy Doyle to meander among stories of family mayhem with nothing to drive his performance. Doyle is his usual charming self, but Quade needs to give him a more dramatic reason to ramble. --Justin Hayford