The performance I have chosen to discuss is called ‘Be My Baby’ written by Amanda Whittington and directed by Anna Newell for Lyric Theatre Offsite Productions. ‘Be My Baby’ is set in St.Saviour’s Church of England mother and baby home in the North of England which takes in unmarried mothers during their pregnancy and accommodates them until their child is born and given up for adoption. The play takes part over 2 months in 1964.
The play is an ensemble production that is a mixture of naturalism and brechtan, as the cast managed to create a really dramatic, serious scene and then they would break into acapella singing groups and perform girl band hits from the 1960’s such as: De do run run, Be My Baby, Going to the chapel etc. They would do this as they moved the set which was a 360? rotating set with 3 locations which were the matron’s office, the dormitory and the laundry.
The play’s main character is Mary played by Roisin Gallagher who is brought into St.Saviour’s by her mother played by Libby Smith when she is 7 months pregnant at 19 years of age. Mary is shown to her dormitory which she shares with Queenie played by Susan Crothers who is an aspiring singer. The 2 other girls we meet in the play are Norma played by Cat Barter and Dolores played by Julie Maxwell, Norma and Dolores are also pregnant and staying in St.Saviour’s, they both don’t seem to know a lot about what child birth entails.
I have chosen to discuss the part of Queenie played by Susan Crothers. In the play Queenie seems to be the supportive element for the rest of the girls. However, she show’s her soft side when her dream’s of becoming a famous singer just like all the girls on the records she listened to were shattered when Mary told her she wasn’t a good singer. At first, Mary didn’t want to tell Queenie this but when Queenie kept insisting on Mary giving her a truthful answer, Mary gave in and told Queenie she couldn’t sing upon hearing this Queenie turns around in her bed and wont face Mary and we get the impression she is crying when she answers Mary in a broken voice that she was fine after Mary asks is she alright. This happens after Mary and Queenie have been listening to a song on the record player and are singing along, Queenie then stops and gives Mary a shocked expression and says to Mary you’ve got good pipes.
The scene then ends with Queenie lying with her back to Mary in a bad mood. In this scene Queenie (Susan Crothers) uses a wide range of facial expressions such as shock- open mouthed when she hears Mary sing and sadness- face drops when she finds out she can’t sing, but, earlier in the scene when they are singing together Queenie is pulling faces along to the music and comes across as a very funny character.
Although throughout the play Queenie portrays many different emotions and seems to really understand the other girls and help them come to terms with what they are going through, this comes across as though she interacts really well with the other actors on stage. However, we later find out that her knowledge of what the girls are all going through comes from the fact that she has had a baby before when she was just 16, which is what she confesses to Mary as Mary goes into labour in the dormitory. Queenie seems very humble when the matron played by Sharon Coade commends her on the way she safely delivers Mary’s baby girl in the dormitory alone during the night.
The play is very moving and is not based on a true story but based on situations which were likely to happen in the 1960’s i.e. mother and baby homes run by the church. I think all actors gave an excellent performance throughout the play, but, I thought Susan Crothers playing Queenie was exceptional and really portrayed a very interesting character who came across as rough and bossy but knew how to look after the girls in St.Saviour’s and really help them before, during and after child birth.