Babies at The Other Palace

Babies is the new kid….or baby in town when it comes to British Musicals. This new musical by Jack Godfrey (music, lyrics and orchestration) and Martha Geelan (book and director) takes audiences back to their school days. Our 9 classmates are tasked with keeping a baby in the form of a crying doll with sensors looked after over the course of a school week and this gives us an insight into their world.

Along the way we get to know year 11. We meet Jasmine (Laura Conroy) an over achiever under pressure not to let her top of the class status slip; Becky (Jaina Brock-Patel) a social media queen who struggles to show her authentic herself online and her boyfriend Ben (Max Mulrenan) who will do anything to keep Becky happy and consequently most of the parenting. We also meet Lulu (Lucy Carter) who lets her classmates walk all over her in an attempt to win their friendship, Alex (Ashley Goh) who discovers that it takes having a baby to accept themselves and Toby (Bradley Riches) and Jacob (Nathan Johnston) who get close after being told to co-parent. Finally in year 11 there are best friends, Grace (Viola Maisey) who is absorbed in her own problems and Leah (Zoe Athena) who struggles to let her classmates in when her home life crumbles. The wonderful thing is that all of these characters have depth, we can see something of ourselves in our teenage years in the characters which makes them relatable but dialled up several notches to get the comedy across perfectly.

All of the performers encapsulate their characters wonderfully. Athena’s portrayal as Leah was captivating and heart-breaking at the same time and Brock-Patel perfectly captured the comedy of her role with love rather than poking run at the character. Equally Conroy was riveting to watch at all times – her slightest gesture or eye movements really summed up her internalised pressure. There are moments where it is difficult to develop strong emotions towards some of the characters and their relationships with each other, simply because there are so many to invest in and only a limited amount of time on stage.

The music was cleverly thought out, a strong poppy opening with ‘Baby Baby Baby’ immediately captured our attention and ‘Hot Dad’ had the whole audience laughing yet there were moments of tenderness and reflection and during Athena’s portrayal of ‘Mum; you could hear a pin drop in the audience.

The show was cleverly directed by Greelan and it utilised 2 scaffolding platforms, banks of lockers and tables on wheels which meant that the fast pace of the show could continue and not wait for unnecessary set changes, instead the cast manoeuvred the tables around and flung themselves under planforms and up ladders to portray all of the different settings.

The costume in Babies looked deceptively simple as they were costumed throughout in school uniform however each uniform was styled different by costume designer Jasmine Swan with Becky’s short skirt contrasting to Jasmine’s knee length one and from Toby’s jumper through to Leah’s scruffy tie. This attention to detail helped establish the characters before they even opened their mouths.

Babies has a bright future ahead of it, do check out the new kid on the block so when everyone is clambering to get tickets (and they will be) you can say ‘haven’t you got big.’

Babies is on at The Other Palace until 14th July. You can find out more and book tickets on their website here.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Two Strangers Carry A Cake Across New York, Fun At The Beach Romp Bomp A Lomp and Choir of Man.

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