Baby: The Musical

Book by Sybille Pearson
Music by David Shire
Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr
Presented by Living Colour Productions
Unity Theatre
Wednesday 21st March 2012

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

As the audience waits for the show to begin, we can see a small orchestra sat above the headboard of an enormous bed. The musical introduction kicks in and couples cavort onto the stage, hugging, dancing and kissing, before our three lead couples stand out and introduce their situations. We meet Liz and Danny, students who have just moved in together, Arlene and Alan, a more mature couple whose last child has recently left home, and Pam and Nick, the young couple who have been trying to conceive for a while. We learn that all three couples are expecting a baby.

The audience is cleverly lead through each couples initial thoughts on being pregnant, Liz and Danny see the positives of creating a life that has a each of their wonderful traits combined, Arlene and Alan see advantages of not having to cope with their empty nest but the disadvantages of starting all over again, and the pure joy of Pam and Nick who wanted it so much.

At the doctors’ surgery the three women meet and exchange stories, the dry humour in Arlene’s advice and clarity about what to really expect to Liz raised great laughs, as did Pam’s desire not to miss out on any of the pregnancy experience and to have it all, even morning sickness. As each woman grapples with her own reality the mood switches and begins to tug at your heartstrings. Arlene contemplates a termination, and worries if her husband will even like her just for herself without having a child to look after and give them a common interest. Liz and Danny face being apart for the summer due to work commitments and Liz worries about dealing with her pregnancy alone. At this point we learn that Pam and Nick have suffered a miscarriage, here the harsh realities of loss and hope really hit home.

Pam and Nick begin trying again to get pregnant, but they are struggling and start putting pressure on themselves after numerous doctors’ visits. The finger of blame does the rounds before they decide to stick together and hope for the best. As they continue to try they both start to crack under pressure. They admit that trying so hard is destroying their relationship. In one of the more moving songs, they discuss how they have sacrificed passion and romance for trying, and have been replaced by baby making robots obsessed with having sex by the book as the doctors have suggested. They question whether they will be enough for each other if children never become part of their life.

Arlene and Alan were in the process of selling their big family house when they got pregnant, with the news they begin to wonder if they should keep it and fill it again or sell up and get used to being just the two of them in a smaller home. Again in a brutally honest song, they question whether they even know each other without being parents as for so long they have had something else to focus on. They admit they got it right when raising their children but wonder if along the way they lost the couple that began their family. Alan sings that their children were always easier to love than his wife, because to them, he was a hero, the star of their show, whereas to his wife, he is just a man, she sees him as he is; no superhero cape. This is a beautiful moment in the play, the stripped down honesty of a man being so honest about his love was moving to watch. They both wonder how they will cope if it is just the two of them for the future.

While Danny is away working, Liz tells us about the horrors she endures as a young pregnant woman on her own, in an amusing number she tells of random women wanting to touch her tummy and tell her their horrific birthing stories, and the sadness she feels having no one to share the baby’s first kick with. Danny is beginning to realise that life doesn’t always go to plan and as they grow older their opinions and beliefs are bound to change. They both worry that as they grow up there is a chance they might grow apart.

As the musical draws to a close, Nick and Pam have decided they are enough on their own to have a happy life, but want to keep trying naturally to see if it happens for them. Arlene and Alan have decided they are done raising children and want to get to know each other all over again so they can enjoy each other’s company with no children as a distraction. And Liz and Danny welcome their baby into the world, vowing to stick together and enjoy the life they didn’t plan together.

A wonderful play that highlights the emotional highs and lows of pregnancy. Anyone who has ever known anyone struggling to fall pregnant or deal with an unexpected pregnancy will delight in this beautifully scripted musical.

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