The Babysitters

Set in a surreal criminal underworld where gangsters play Cluedo, Hide and Seek and drink home-grown English garden tea, The Babysitters is an ambitious piece of new writing that has all the hallmarks of brilliance without quite being brilliant itself. Despite some very assured plot development and flashes of comedic golddust, the play nonetheless feels awfully like a Hostel-inspired rehash of Harold Pinter with more expletives, its slasher elements daubing over the subtle drama in evidence beneath.

Writers Matt Dann and Lewis Meade seem simply to have lifted aspects from their favourite dramatic idols, distorted them, and then passed these off as original ideas.

There is scarcely a single sentence in the entire script that is not punctuated by “fuck” or “cunt” and, whilst this could be put down to characterisation (especially in the case of Michael Forde's winning Irishman Dave), I can't help thinking that, when it comes to swearing, less really is more. If anything, gratuitous use of this sort of explicit language lessens rather than heightens the sense of absurdity an audience feels, so that instead of those electric moments where an audience is unsure whether they're supposed to be wetting themselves with laughter or fear, all they get is a string of one-liners designed to make them feel cosy. Perhaps this is an unfair criticism for a show that touts itself as 'rip-roaring black comedy', but whilst The Babysitters is certainly very funny, 'black' it is not - it denies itself the terms of suspense that could make it genuinely riveting dark humour.

There is a theory much bandied about in theatre (but no less true for all that) known as 'Chekhov's Gun'. According to Chekhov, a gun should never be brought on stage unless, at some point in the performance, it is going to be fired. This is true of all stage props: don't bring something onstage unless (a) you're going to use it and (b) the possibility of its being used is sufficient to hold an audience in suspense up until the point at which it is used. Contrary to this piece of popular thinking, The Babysitters brings props onstage that it could not possibly hope to use without seriously injuring its actors.

Overall, the production suffered from a desire to show rather than simply imply (the latter method being by far the more powerful). It is hardly surprising that its most convincing torture scene was the one that happened offstage. Writers Matt Dann and Lewis Meade (who also plays Tommy) seem simply to have lifted aspects from their favourite dramatic idols, distorted them, and then passed these off as original ideas. The ending tableau was a case in point here, quoting Martin MacDonagh's film In Bruges verbatim. MacDonagh is himself steeped in Pinter - In Bruges is after all a re-write of The Dumb Waiter, but where MacDonagh reinterprets Pinter's play, The Babysitters is little more than debased Pinter.

Reviews by Rik Baker

Pleasance Theatre

Folie à Deux


Albee Vector the Sound Collector

theSpace @ Symposium Hall


Assembly Roxy

Anthem for a Doomed Youth

C venues - C nova


Pleasance Courtyard

Hot Cat


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 £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Tommy and Dave, babysitters for a violent crime-boss, while away the hours playing Cluedo, eating Chinese food and wondering what's going to happen to the man tied up in the cupboard. Their job is simple: lie low, keep watch and await instructions. But when their orders finally come through, boredom turns to mayhem as the pair are plunged into a hilarious, blood-fuelled nightmare with disastrous consequences. A rip-roaring black comedy. Winner of Best Play at the Durham Drama Festival 2013. 'Utterly hilarious ... undeniable masterpiece' ***** ( 'Shockingly gruesome' ***** (

Most Popular See More


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £32.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets