Last chance to visit Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-Up theatre
After a successful ten-month season utilising an ensemble company and a temporary space that had once been its workshops, Leeds Playhouse is approaching the final week of its Pop-Up season.
The all-female production of Amanda Whittington’s Be My Baby has met with great acclaim since opening on May 11 moving audiences and critics alike, with the writer herself saying she was ‘thrilled by [the] brilliant reimagining of music, era & world of the play… [I] felt like I was seeing it for the first time.’
“I am delighted with the response we’ve had to Be My Baby,” says director Jacqui Honess-Martin. “It has been a wonderful piece to work on and an emotional one for all involved.”
The play sees 19-year old Mary taken to a maternity home for young, unmarried, pregnant women. Mary is seven months pregnant when her mother delivers her into the charge of St Saviours, and as she, Dolores, Queenie and Norma bond over records and romance, they begin to understand what it means to give their children to the Welfare Service – and Mary realises she must fight to take her baby home.
“The story has deep personal resonance for many of us in the company who are new mothers, mothers-to-be and for some of us whose lives have been touched directly by the events the story depicts. Also we were joined by Anna Gray, a learning disabled actor who is a professional artist with Mind the Gap Theatre Company – they have recently produced some great work exploring learning disabilities and parenthood so it felt like many new stories coming together years after the piece was written” continues Jacqui.
“Be My Baby was written in the 90s about the 60s but the general response from audiences has referenced how poignant it still feels,” Jacqui continues. “As the news broke of new anti-abortion laws in Alabama on our opening night, a story about women’s rights to their bodies and about how and when they have children couldn’t feel more resonant.”
The production is given a fresh twist as the 1960s pop songs that featured in the background of the original piece are brought to the fore with cast members performing songs from the likes of Dusty Springfield and The Ronettes.
“Having the songs performed live has created a real shift in the piece,” Jacqui concludes. “The context gives a real weight to the lyrics and you hear a whole different sentiment to the traditional love story of the pop song.”
The female Ensemble Company is Tessa Parr as Dolores, Anna Gray as Norma Jo Mousley as Mrs Adams, Crystal Condie as Queenie, Simona Bitmate as Mary and Susan Twist as Matron.
Be My Baby plays in Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-Up theatre, in association with SOYO Leeds, until 1 June.
Click here to book tickets for Be My Baby