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Babies The Musical | Review, The Other Palace

Relive the highs and lows of your teenage years. Hormones, humour, and harmonies, in Babies The Musical at The Other Palace

It’s tough being a teenager. You feel like you can’t really be honest with your friends about your insecurities, because they won’t understand, and the adults in your life definitely won’t understand and barely listen anyway. It can be a very lonely time, and that loneliness, the need for approval, and sometimes feeling like you have to deal with everything yourself, is something we can all relate to. Jack Godfrey and Martha Geelan’s Babies The Musical, at The Other Palace, Victoria, deals with these issues with comedy, great music, and of course… that essential ingredient… robot babies!

The premise of the show, around which the narrative unfolds, is that year 11 (15/16 year olds) are being given a robot baby simulator (very advanced technology) to look after for a week long school project. Of course they think this will be a right laugh, having no idea how hard parenting really is! As the sleepless nights get too much for some, the façade of their individual, carefully crafted personas gives way to more authentic sharing and emotion. The unfolding story is one full of comedy, chaos, and some genuinely touching moments as these kids struggle with (for most) their first real taste of responsibility.

The cast were brilliant. All of them in their late teens or early twenties (they had to appear 16) but some giving performances that showed a depth of maturity well beyond their years. Zoë Athena’s Leah grapples with some very sad and heavy issues related to her mother, whilst Lauren Conroy’s Jasmine is slowly being crushed under the weight of her own expectations. These two actors had the most challenging roles and did an amazing job portraying the emotional turmoil that they were experiencing.

I can’t mention them all, but the supporting cast was fantastic too, from the Instagram queen and her overly needy boyfriend, to the girl who everyone just takes for granted and never stands up for herself, and everyone in between. There is a lovely b-plot about being yourself and accepting who you are (a boy from a small town has to deal with his homosexuality, Instagram queen has to deal with not seeming to have it all together), and a subtle – because it’s never mentioned – but important inclusion of a non-binary character, played with confidence and flair by non-binary actor, Ashley Goh, made this the perfect show to be on during Pride month.

Choreographer Alexzandra Sarmiento deserves a standing ovation (and they all got one, the night I was there) for her vibrant and lively dance numbers. Each sequence bursts with the kind of hormonal energy that only teenagers hopped up on energy drinks and angst can bring!

And the songs themselves… Jack Godfrey’s score is full of fun, poppy, tunes including the hilarious “Hot Dad” and the oh so catchy opening number “Baby, Baby, Baby”. Honorable re-mention of Zoë Athena for the very moving and emotional “Stupid Piece of Plastic”.

Both Leah and Jasmine had me in tears as they dealt with struggles that many of us were lucky enough not to face at their age, yet can still relate to in some respects. However, at no point do you feel like the show is getting too serious, and the light touch with which the writers handle the issues, whilst maintaining the comedic undertones, is certainly impressive.

The set, as is often the way at The Other Palace, was simple yet flexible. Jasmine Swan’s design was basically some lockers and some raised platforms, but the lockers could be moved around or reversed to transform the space as needed, and the high platforms and staircases easily became a cliff top or just a quiet corner for characters to hide out in or share a moment, as per the demands of the plot.

Babies The Musical, is a trip down memory lane, to a time in our lives that many of us remember through rose tinted glasses, but was actually a roller coaster of emotions, when we were learning to navigate life as young adults for the first time. The music is brilliant, the premise is genius, and whether you are a parent like me or closer to school age yourself, you will find it relatable, fun, and uplifting. If you’re a human being going through life – and I think that accounts for at least 95% of our readers – you will love this show. Get yourself a ticket now, before Babies is aborted on July 14th!

To book tickets visit www.theotherpalace.co.uk/babies-musical

Words by Nick Barr

Photography Matt Crockett

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