Baby

'Violent. Political. Entertaining.' These are the words international company MKA use to define their convention-breaking work. But their latest offering, Baby, now showing at London's 2016 Vault Festival, fits none of these categories. The action is tame, the message is blurred, and the show runs like a seventy-five minute joke no one except the performers are in on.

Rather than a tale of human triumph against adversity though, the show veers between a parody of the interview format and the 'shout whatever we think of' end of internal monologue.

Baby centres around a talkshow interview regarding one man's survival in the arctic and a tussle with a polar bear after a disastrous plane crash. Rather than a tale of human triumph against adversity though, the show veers between a parody of the interview format and the 'shout whatever we think of' end of internal monologue. Seemingly billed as an environmental tale, it skirts around its central themes without ever really stopping to address them, happier to trail off and parrot unrelated phrases for their own sake. There's no doubt something to pick apart among the scattered lines, but the clumsy rhythm of the writing makes this unnecessarily difficult to accomplish.

The play is very concerned with the nature of performance, and therefore itself; this means a large chunk of the dialogue, when coherent, is wasted on complaints about their own clunky lighting design or suggesting the audience feels too awkward to leave (making it far too awkward for anyone to actually do it). The performance is self-reflexive enough to be interesting, but can come across as lazily meta. Scenes are 'structured' around vague titles that make a point of mocking the audience for being there, and large swathes of the show are just too random and unexplained to be memorable.

The two performers, Tobias Manderson-Galvin and Tom Payne, are never less than engaging, somehow managing to hold our attention when the script and staging really shouldn't. But this isn't enough to tie together the mess of threads on offer. The disconnected nature of the scenes means that each line can be surprising, even effective - one can't help laughing at some of the nonsense, the way a baby laughs at sudden noises. However it's neither clear nor justified as to why they choose this particular style. It may work for some, but this reviewer can't help feeling that the best audience for these performers would be each other.

Reviews by Henry St Leger

Pleasance Dome

Police Cops in Space

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

Frankie Vah by Luke Wright

★★★★★
Summerhall

A Hundred Different Words for Love

★★★★★
Bush Theatre

Guards at the Taj

★★★★★
Camden People's Theatre

Beta Public V

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

BABY is a 1985 American adventure fantasy film; what your lover calls you; your mother calls you. An inconoclastic, terrifying performance on the problem of human agency. Text-based, post-dramatic, political satire that is mostly as described; an audience with a polar bear; a victim of climate change, forced migration and globalisation. You are what you eat and the polar bear ate it’s young, your young and the last of the ice. This work will be enjoyed by you if you like: Throwing Bricks Through Windows, Enjoying, and Capitalisation.

Most Popular See More

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets