Review: Audience gets lost in laughter
Be My Baby brings two different types of love to the stage: head-over-heels young puppy love and in contrast, reluctant unlikely love fraught with petty arguments and heated debates.
The romantic comedy tells the story of an uptight Londoner, Maud and stubborn Scotsman, John who have come together for one common goal: to travel 6,000 miles to pick up an adopted baby girl for the newlywed couple, Gloria and Christy, who cannot travel.
The problem? Maud and John are seemingly repulsed by one another.
Although their journey unravels in a series of somewhat predictable events, the actors give such a stand-up performance the audience simply gets lost in heartfelt laughter and relatable moments of irritation.
The misadventure, which is only meant to be a few days, gets stalled by various legal obstacles which see Maud and John in one another’s company for much longer than anticipated. The two lead actors maintain a strong sense of chemistry on stage throughout the duration of the play — their sarcastic banter captures their initial disdain for one other, but they also share moments of honesty in which a genuine sense of intimacy is exchanged.
When Maud and John finally get the newborn baby girl, the dynamics of their travels shift — the way everything seems to change when new life is brought into the equation. Suddenly, the couple becomes — well, a couple. They dine out at restaurants and gloat about the newborn baby to their careless server, and then roll their eyes at her lack of enthusiasm for not sharing in their excitement. They surprise each other with gifts, for no particular reason at all. They take care of one another in times of need. And they still bicker and fight like an old married couple.
Meanwhile, back in the small Scottish village where Gloria and Christy are living the honeymoon period has ended. Gloria gets restless in a small town and begins a questionable relationship with her cousin; Christy becomes frustrated and jealous. They question the strength of their relationship and wonder if they’re ready to raise a child together.
Be My Baby written by American playwright Ken Ludwig has a witty script only made better by the extraordinary direction of Eileen Butts and the talented cast. Lead actress Rosalee Sullivan, who plays Maud, gives an outstanding performance demonstrating her vast emotional range and years of experience. In one of the most touching moments of the production, Sullivan delivers a monologue about her late husband where her eyes well with tears and the audience can’t help but feel years of bottled up grief.
Lead actor Alistair McVey, who plays John, also delivers a great performance personifying a bon-a-fide Scotsman. McVey gets into character bringing to life a gruff, headstrong, frugal Scot who is fiercely proud of his heritage. Maggie Kirk and Cameron Wallace, who play Gloria and Christy respectively, portray an infatuated young couple sick with undying adoration for one another. It’s cute and annoying — the way young couples in love always are. And considering this is Wallace’s first performance, the new actor held his own impressively. Hopefully, the newcomer continues acting. Additionally, Shawn Lestage and Anne Jinks played ensemble roles which were so well done it wasn’t apparent the same actor kept reappearing until their third character change.
Lighting and sound cues were flawless — the production team deserves major recognition. The set, though simple, was quaint and charming. However, the projection screen that was used to set the scene seemed a little unnecessarily digital for the classic production. Costumes, especially Kirk’s sixties style dresses, were timely and sort of enchanting in a way which makes one yearn for another era.
All in all, Be My Baby is a romantic comedy filled with good natured mayhem and sarcastic banter. It demonstrates an interesting and hilarious culture clash and allows the audience to follow an unlikely love story between an older couple, who realizes it’s never too late to fall in love and start a life together. Romance isn’t just reserved for those not yet jaded by life.
In subtle ways, Be My Baby is about more than just love — it’s about friendship, parenthood and the changing nature of relationships.
Be My Baby is playing at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach until March 9. For ticket info, call 250-752-3522.