Senior Drama students presented a gritty performance of ‘Be My Baby’ this term. We were delighted to receive the following independent review by a member of the audience.
It was with a sense of anticipation that I arrived at the new Whitty Theatre to see a performance of the Luckley House Senior School production of ‘Be By Baby’ by Amanda Whittington. The theatre space is a delight to enter and the pupils are very fortunate to have such an outstanding resource available to them.
Set in the 1960s, the play about unmarried mothers-to-be set in a home where they had been sent by their parents only for their babies to be taken from them at birth and given up for adoption, is a stark contrast to today’s society. The cast therefore needed to understand the prevailing moral tone of the times if they were to succeed in this play, and that they most certainly did.
Director Jane Harris’ pacey direction was given impetus by a well-drilled and disciplined cast. In a simple set, with three different locations and an excellent lighting plot by Oliver Bamber, the cast moved effortlessly from one scene to the next.
The opening scene was particularly beautifully lit and gave a confident opening to the play that everyone built on. As the programme notes say, the play is both funny and sad, but also uplifting as the friendships bond, and the girls begin to understand about themselves and the world at large.
The fun elements worked very well, I particularly liked the sheet dancing scene, and the jokes were delivered with style and not over sold “Am I the only scrubber here?” from the excellent Alex T as the street-wise Queenie being a good example. The sadder, bleaker moments were sensitively handled and were entirely believable, with Norma’s pathetic searches for her baby and Mary’s fight to keep her baby, examples of tough scenes for actors and audience alike.
Matron was probably the hardest character to play because we knew nothing about her. The strong, authoritarian, tough love person in charge of the home was well played by Lucy G. She was effective and believable and commanded her scenes well with parent and daughter alike.
Ellen M as fun-loving Dolores was great to watch and listen to (like Alex T’s Queenie, the northern accents were totally convincing) and her outrage at the mechanics of the birth process was funny but not overdone.
Mary, the middle class girl plunged into this alien situation was utterly believable, from the growing realisation of the horror of what lay in store for her baby, to the drama of the birth scene (that scene worked really well), Lottie F was fully in control.
I now have to confess that as I started to write this review and looked at the programme for cast names, I see for the first time that Norma and Mrs Adams were played by the same actress, Millie P. She looked and sounded entirely the part as the respectable-and-I-firmly-intend-to-keep-it-that-way Mrs Adams, but also gave the slightly simple, confused Norma a sadness that left many of us feeling uncomfortable in our seats.
I’ve mentioned Alex T already, and her excellent portrayal of the knowing Queenie was very sharp. Her tough exterior gave way to a caring side as she passed on words of wisdom to her friends, and was at the heart of so much of the action.
All in all, it was a very thought-provoking play that was smartly directed, intelligently acted, and technically excellent, plus it had some great old records! I look forward to the next production.
Photos from the production are available on our Facebook page