Opening night of She’s My Baby and it was a full house in the cosy Old Council Chambers of the Victorian Trades Hall. The intimate horseshoe shaped setting suited the show’s minimal staging – a frilly pink baby basket, comfy lounge chair and a wooden park bench.
She’s My Baby, debuting with the new production company Fifth Gear Productions, was the story of a typical suburban couple raising children, as told through two contrasting monologues. The first half was from the point of view of the new mum (writer and director Adele Shelley) – over-protective, filled with nervous tension and gushing with adoration for her little girl. As she spoke, a darker (and quite obvious) story unfolded with a hysterical crescendo. Thankfully the tense atmosphere was relieved by the levity of the second half, set sixteen years later and told from the point of view of the dad (Jeremy Kewley), out of his depth with his monosyllabic, moody teenage daughter.
The writing was engaging, naturalistic and the script contained many true and often humourous observations about the loving and sometimes difficult relationship between parents and children. My only gripe was that I found the delivery in the first half very tightly wound and anxious. I can’t work out whether it was opening night nerves, over-acting or whether Shelley was trying to plant the seed of the mother’s hysteria in the audience’s mind early in the piece. Either way, I think the monologue could have benefited from some light and shade instead of maintaining a constant level of breathless, high-pitched tension.
Thanks to Fifth Gear Productions for inviting me to the show.