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posted/updated: 16 Jun 2018 - edit review / upload photos
Be My Baby
Written by: Amanda WhittingtonDirected by: Rebecca Charlton
society/company: Chester-le-Street Theatre Group (directory)
performance date: 10 May 2018
venue: Chester-le-Street Community Centre
reviewer/s: Tom Casling (Independent review)

Be My Baby: Play by Amanda Whittington
Chester le Street Theatre Group Graduates:
10th-12th May 2018

This show had the feel of Heartbeat meets ‘Call the Midwife.’ The set, the music and the costumes conjured up a sense of nostalgia until one realises the subject matter is nothing to feel nostalgic about. It dealt with the shocking way society treated young pregnant unmarried girls in the 60s under the guise of love, care and Christian duty. A time when young mum's were forced into backstreet abortions, who were sent away until the baby was born, who were separated from their babies at birth to "respectable families" and all because of family shame, girls who would 'burn in hell'. Who were described by other, and themselves as ‘dirty'. It’s uncomfortable to think society did this. It was astounding to see the portrayal of these girls by six modern teenagers playing roles that at times were gut wrenching story lines.

Sheralyn Rose you had me in tears during the scene when your child was taken away and you were searching in cupboards and under the bed asking 'have you seen him, have you seen my baby?'.

Vicki Cowey: Your portrayal of Queenie as the hardened young girl who refused to be affected by her situation and could see no maternal qualities in herself, whilst being all but a mother to the girls: the provider, the organiser, A young girl who couldn't see in redeeming qualities in herself and had given up her own child for adoption only to be on hand deliver a child without medical help.

Rowanne Alon: The educated teenager with good prospects in front of her, a job in the bank, good career, well educated and from an affluent family and yet in the same situation as the others. You were the voice of reason. You developed your character from timid, shy teenager - afraid of her own shadow and domineering mother to that of a self assured young woman due to the process you had been through and the effect that the other girls had had on you. I particularly liked you telling your mother to ‘wait in the taxi’ and her reaction to this.

Katherine Saunders: Dolores - a girl that in those days we would have unkindly described as 'simple' was a joy to watch. Underneath this persona lies a girl who was quite astute, who missed nothing and who saw stuff that others missed. This made the scene were you reveal the identity of the babies’ father even more shocking.

Becky Howarth: What a portrayal of Matron who's starched white apron reflected her even starchier outlook on life affecting her attitude to the girls. What a cow. She typified stereotypes of Matrons and the entrenched attitudes of society. I liked how you portrayed a much older mature character, your words and sentences where clipped and precise and left no room for nonsense and yet there were moments of vulnerability as the girls' comments affected you evidenced by your facial expressions

Rebecca Charlton: Mrs Adams and Director. The contrast of emotions you showed from domineering mother to concerned parent, filled with shame and a sense of her social standing was excellent: Wanting to help, wanting to do the right thing but not knowing how. Her bewilderment at her daughters self confidence, her revelation was portrayed beautifully giving an insight into her own problems as a young woman. Rebecca Charlton I can't believe that this is your first directorial experience 'respect' to you and the actors. You found your characters and developed them well.

Tom Casling


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