Be My Baby

Tue 15th – Sat 19th May 2012


Marion Pragt

at 11:06 on 16th May 2012



“Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married, goin’ to the chapel of love.” This song of The Dixie Cups runs as a thread through Be My Baby, reflecting the characters’ hopes and dreams. Set in the early 1960’s, the play follows 19-year old Mary Adams (Mary Galloway), an unmarried girl expecting a baby. Her shocked mother sends her to a Church-run maternity home where she befriends three other girls who all stay there until their childen will be born and given up for adoption.

At first, it seemed the characters would be hopelessly stereotypical, with Mary representing the clever posh girl, her roommate Queenie (Marika McKennell), the bad girl who has already been in the same situation before and Matron a cold woman implementing draconian rules. Fortunately, as the play unfolds more insight is given into the different backgrounds and stories of the girls as they do the laundry and bond over the girl group hits of their time, making them more rounded characters. Even Matron is not depicted as strict and unforgiving as she could have been. In Martha Bennett’s admirable performance she is not unkind, trying to provide what she thinks is best for the girls and their babies.

This is an unassuming play without spectacular plot twists and witticisms, but the performance is all the more touching for it. In an overall well-acted show, featuring Rosie Brown’s beautiful and effective set design, Mary and Queenie, “long for Queen”, stood out. For a play as short as this one was, there were many scene changes and blackouts, leaving the audience to wait in the dark for quite some time, even though these pauses were used to play 1960’s music, which strengthened the play’s atmosphere. The music could have been exploited more, though, as the characters’ dancing and singing was sparse and a little uninspiring.

At times giggly and naïve, at other moments deeply serious and unsettling, Be My Baby is a play in which men are conspicuously absent; be it the husband killed during the war, the father who is kept in the dark about his daughter’s pregnancy or indeed the girls’ boyfriends. Although the play focuses on the girls’ stay in the mother and child home, one cannot help wondering the most interesting things would actually happen after that. How would the girls pick up their lives with unknowing fathers and mothers who pretend nothing has happened? In which ways would their boyfriends react? One day they will perhaps be going to the chapel “and never be lonely anymore”, but until then one hopes their new-found friendship and strength so convincingly depicted in this performance will serve them well.


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