Reach Out and Touch Someone: “Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play”

Presented by Pipeline Theatre Company
Written by Philip Santos Schaffer
Directed by Isabel Quinzaños Alonso
Performed by Mary Round
Dramaturgy by Anna Woodruff
Sound Design & Composition: Jorge Olivo
Stage Manager: Matt Engle
Producing Consultant: Stefanie Harris

Interested in tickets? Please read the FAQ!

February 1 – March 30, 2023
Your Phone/Zoom, Over 2 nights
From anywhere in the USA
Pipeline on Instagram

Review by Kitty Drexel

Your Phone — It is important for an audience member of Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play to do some research before attending. I, like a dingus, thought I didn’t need to research the story behind Baby Jessica because she was in the news when I was a kid. 

Friends, I incorrectly thought this play would be hilarious. I was six when 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued after being trapped for 58 hours in an abandoned water well in Midland, Texas. Don’t be like me. Please at least the Pipeline Theatre FAQ.

It is very important to note that Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play is an interactive, conversational play. It occurs over two (2) scheduled evenings. The first evening runs two and a half hours long (150 minutes) but the attendee should give themselves an additional half hour (30 minutes) for setup before the show starts. That is a total of three hours or 180 minutes. 

Setup is a surprise that will be explained in an email sent by Pipeline Theatre Company several hours before your performance. My setup included several pillows to accommodate my shoulder injury, a long phone charger cord, my phone, a closet, and piles of stanky laundry. Your setup will be different because you live in your house, and I live in mine.

Please contact to discuss possible mobility issues. Your comfort during the performance is important to Pipeline Theatre Company. 

Although, had I known that I was going to be stuffed back into a closet for the theatre after leaping out of it 18 years ago, I might’ve postponed seeing Baby Jessica a little bit longer. Just kidding, this show was worth it. Laundry and all.

Attendees, please do not wait until the last minute to read your emails from Pipeline Theatre Company! You will miss out on the Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play experience if you don’t read your emails responsibly.  

The second evening runs one and a half hours long (90 minutes) and requires minimal setup. It behooves attendees to be comfortable and relaxed in this second half of the performance. 

Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play is a live, two-person interactive play (with a silent stage manager executing tech and troubleshooting other issues. Actor Mary Round plays an omniscient narrator and world-builder who firmly and kindly brings her solitary audience member back to 1987, Texas when Baby Jessica gets trapped in her family’s forgotten well. 

Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play has many moments of emotional intimacy. The playscript is written to inspire hope and belief in miracles. To inspire compassion and empathy in her audience, Round shares journalism from the Baby Jessica news cycle and supplements each news item with stories from her own life. 

Round’s voice is vibrant and frequently tender. So, when she asked me to share stories from my own life, I shared my own personal stories about fear, hope, and miracles. I trusted Round and the silent stage manager with my stories. 

Round said thank you after each of my stories, and I believed in her gratitude. I felt free to do the same. I felt our thanks weren’t the common, polite exchanges of strangers holding a door open in a busy hallway. It felt like real kinship. 

It’s a beautiful recurring theme of Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play: unexpected but intentional kinship with a complete stranger. The intimacy continues in the second half of the show. 

After an intermission that is preceded by and ended with a text message from Pipeline Theatre, the audience member is interviewed by a different stranger who is not actor Mary Round. This stranger attended Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play, the part I just attended minutes ago, on another evening. I will come to learn, after tonight, I will play perform the stranger’s role on a different evening. 

This gracious stranger asked me 58 questions – one for each hour Baby Jessica was trapped in the well. They were patient, thoughtful, and hilarious. This call had the emotional intimacy of a platonic best-friend date and was completely anonymous. 

I won’t reveal the questions or my responses during the first half of Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play. I did return on the second evening and asked another total stranger the same 58 questions asked of me (some performances are on a Sunday afternoon. Results may vary). Both times, I, a level 47 introvert, found unexpected kinship with two unknown individuals.

We discovered that we had more in common than we didn’t: we hope for a better future; we think miracles are possible if we expand our definition of miracles; we think most people are looking for something good to believe in; we probably should have read more about Baby Jessica first.   

I will share one wee but important aspect of the show. The creators ask each attendee what they do daily to help change the world a little bit. This is what I do. I listen to Snoop Dogg’s “Affirmation Song.” 

The song is silly. It’s fun. It’s for all ages. Affirmations work and no one has to know if you don’t want them to. It puts a smile on my face every single time I listen to it. How fortunate that we live in an era when we get to experience live theatre from home and that we can share these ridiculous, wonderful moments together.

Article update 2/3/2023: This review is updated to more accurately describe the experience of attending Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play. 

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