Thursday, April 21, 2016

Be My Baby - Review - People's Theatre

Be My Baby
People's Theatre
19th April 2016

Be My Baby! - the innocent wish of teenage girls everywhere. We all dreamt of finding Mr Right and being swept off our feet. For some, back in the sixties, in a particularly dour Yorkshire town, being swept off their feet had unexpected consequences.  It made no difference whether they were in a steady relationship and planning marriage, the victim of unwanted advances, or taken advantage of by married men, the outcome was the same. Unmarried and pregnant meant concealment, confinement, and adoption. Unmarried mothers were not able to provide a respectable home for a child. They were not able to work and bring up their child. They were bad girls.

Be My Baby by Amanda Whittington is the story of four such girls. Confined to the hospital until their babies are born, they learn together the painful truth about pregnancy, birth and adoption. It's hard to imagine in these days of teenage mothers and one parent families, that such draconian attitudes were once accepted, that young women could have so little choice, so little independence. It is a tragic situation portrayed with amazing sensitivity, humour and emotion by the writer Amanda Whittington, and the cast at People's Theatre. 

Poignantly punctuated with music from the decade  - The Ronettes, The Dixie Chicks, The Shangrilas - Mary, Queenie, Dolores, and Norma work in the laundry and wait out their time, dreaming of their guys and their babies, and planning a future at complete odds with the one society will allow them.
This is a surprisingly gentle and humorous play about a harsh and unforgiving situation. Relationships are forged and unforged, bonds made and broken, between friends and lovers, and between a mother and a daughter.
The direction and perfomance are deceptively understated, making this an incredibly touching piece of theatre. Impressive performances by the cast ensure that the audience are in full sympathy with the characters - unlike the 1960s society that would not acknowledge them. there may have been a lot of love around, but for these girls it was barely free.
Be My Baby plays until Sat 23rd April and is well worth seeing, especially if you think we haven't moved on much as a society...

Denise Sparrowhawk

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