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theatreLab is a not for profit company that relies on donations, fundraising, external funding and support from our partners to do our activity. theatreLab's core staff work on a voluntary basis. 

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This production of Be My Baby is much like its protagonists; clinging to big dreams that take it beyond the small-scale mother-baby home. A talented cast make their characters shine, knowing when to raise the stakes and (more importantly) hold back. Amanda Whittington’s contemporary classic is wonderfully staged, exploring the power of hope and the isolation of repression.

The directors (who also star) have made a clear, shrewd choice to stage the show so that the audience breaches into the girls’ bedroom, highlighting the imprisonment and deeply personal drama unfolding. But as our claustrophobia increases, so does our empathy for the young women. This isn’t a long play and yet each character grows into someone wholly recognisable on their own; you can imagine rough-and-tumble Queenie singing alone in the laundry, or Norma pining softly in the night for her baby. As an ensemble piece, the actors crucially never fight for attention or over-work their roles; there is clear and deep affection for the story being told, with no single character failing to meet the mark.

A word must be said for the lighting and sound, both of which are understated but show the play’s heart. Soft purples and pleasing shades ease us in, whilst the timely music quietly cements an image of the past. This is a strong addition to 2019’s SparkFest, exactly the sort of production that should be part of the festival; stripped down but with great ambition, fronting an entirely female cast and direction. And that’s exactly what should be encouraged in theatre, until we reach a point someday when it no longer feels noteworthy.


Conrad Pollock


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