Set to the uplifting sounds of the 1960s, Amanda Whittington’s Be My Baby is a poignant yet heart-warming play about young unmarried pregnant girls that are sent to a mother-baby home at the disgrace of their families.
Adapted for a Northern tour, the play takes place in the North of England. Protagonist Mary Adams (Jess Cummings) is taken by her uptight mother (Susan Twist) to stay in a church-sponsored home whilst pregnant, to then give up the baby for adoption after birth. Based on true events, it is the moving story of naive young girls that arrive at the home as merely children themselves.
Arriving at the home armed with her record player, Mary comforts herself with the sounds of the iconic female singers of the 60s. Jess Cummings approaches the role of Mary with a sweet innocence which is tarnished as the story progresses and she realises what she is being forced into.
Upon entering the home, she is met with the matron of the house, played by Ruth Madoc. Her portrayal of the stern matron that takes no nonsense is crafted excellently, as the character has many layers that become unravelled as events occur throughout the performance. Despite being faced with her assertive facade, we are soon shown her sensitive side.
The heart of the play comes from the relationship between the four young girls. As they are participating in their daily laundry jobs, they become closer to one another. Each distinct personality creates clashes in characters which highlights the wit of the dialogue. Dolores is played excellently by Eva McKenna, who captures her ditzy wide-eyed persona, setting the humorous tone of the piece. Josie Cerise plays the sensibly bright Norma, who proceeds to educate herself in pregnancy, creating the memorable scene in which Norma is informing the girls of how a baby grows and is born.
Coronation Street’s Brooke Vincent plays the confidently outspoken Queenie, a tough young girl who rolls her eyes at the young girls’ lack of maturity. With a hard surface to crack, Vincent plays the role with anguish who soon softens as she warms to her roommate Mary.
Whittington’s dialogue is pacy, snappy and superbly funny – which paired with the heart-wrenching moments, creates a play of countless highs and lows. Drawing the audience into the emotive and honest side of what these girls had to endure.
***½ 3 and a half stars
On at The Lowry until the 8th of October, tickets can be found here.