BABY/LON @ Hackney Downs Studio Review

We’re often inundated with shocking newspaper headlines and over dramatised scenes of family breakdowns on the Jeremy Kyle Show, but how much do we know about the social services system? With all of the negative media attention, it becomes easy to forget about those affected by the day to day challenges of assimilating in a new environment and therefore being cast in the shadows…


© George Ramsay


Fuelled by the authenticity of the young casts backgrounds, BABY/LON hones in on the life choices of Madeline, a young mother-to-be encompassed by a world of care homes, youth hostels and dysfunctional families. Written by Andy Day and produced by The Big House Theatre Company, BABY/LON, adds a spectrum of young voices to the stage that are perhaps over shadowed or misrepresented in the mainstream.

Bobbi Byrne‘s Madeline chaotically yet vulnerably navigates herself through a series of promiscuous and life changing encounters as she physically and metaphorically fights, not only for her life, but for the life of her unborn child. Kyrae Patterson, Zoe Finlay and Jasmin Alvarez hauntingly amplify the thought processes of Madeline. Working in chorus, the actresses provide a hypothetical voice for Madeline’s unborn child, constantly drawing up on Madeline’s insecurities and judging her abilities as a mother. A voice of the future, the chorus pose as an influential and omniscient narrator, guiding the audience on a journey of revelations.

Placing emphasis on the domino effect of Madeline’s lifestyle choices, the piece briefly looks at the contributing factors of her current situation. Through the accounts of both herself and her brother Roy (Jake Marden-Moore), the pair retrospectively look back to the dysfunctional household in which they were both left to fend for themselves in. Abandoned by their mother, the sibling’s volatile relationship paints a portrait of communicational breakdown and mistrust; as Roy predicts Madeline’s future will become a replica of their mother’s life. Madeline’s affair with boxing coach Luke (Jason Rock), causes tensions as his wife Maria (Tiernie Thompson) attempts to save their failing marriage. Demba (Agnelito Wassenhove Da Costa) is attempting to live a life on the straight and narrow as he takes on the family business, however finds that his good intentions are eclipsed by his shady past. with an unpaid debt, drug barren Angel (Aaron Russell-Andrews) returns as a reminder of his unescapable troubled past.

Francesca Reidy‘s impressive set pieces surround the spacious warehouse. With the performance taking the form of promenade, the audience find themselves travelling from scenario, to scenario, from restaurants to pub benches, hostel dormitories to household set ups. With staging being covered in teems of pillows, Mic Pool‘s projections illuminate images of the cast and thought processes, bringing an exciting element to the production. With the promenade setting, your attention is drawn to the multiple sets, however it can become quite difficult to view some of the scenes; therefore missing out on some of the performances and not being able to emote with what is happening.

Directed by Maggie Norris, the production allows for many of the first time performers to create work in a supportive and encouraging environment. The promenade performance highlights a collection of story lines, each connecting the lives of young people within the social services system. The young protagonist, Madeline becomes the crux of the piece, a character continually on the path for answers. As BABY/LON features a numerous ensemble, it can become difficult to showcase all of the characters, therefore leaving room for character development. 3/5

BABY/LON is currently showing at the Hackney Downs Studio until Saturday 3rd May, for more information on the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop