TEARS and laughter in abundance resulted from Southwick Players’ entry into this year’s Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards.
Directed by Sally Diver, By My Baby was judged by actress Kate Dyson at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last night.
She praised the four young women playing expectant mothers, Nancy Wesby, Kerry Williams, Phoebe Cook and Alice Wesby, and was particularly impressed with their convincing northern accents.
Alice had stepped out of the chorus line for her biggest role to date and showed great promise for future starring roles. She moved many to tears with her portrayal of Norma, who was driven half crazy after having to give up her baby for adoption.
Nancy and Kerry, as Mary and Queenie, played off each other well and Kerry made the most of her lines to lighten up the mood.
Phoebe continues to impress, having been a member of the Players since she was 12, and demonstrates good use of movement.
It was hard to believe they have never been mothers themselves, although they did say afterwards that learning to walk with a bump had been challenging!
Completing the all-female cast were Sharon Churchill as Mrs Adams, Mary’s mother, and Debbie Creissen as a firm but understanding matron.
As well as directing the play, Sally had designed the set,with the help of Martin Oakley. She had the challenge of creating three different rooms from a mother and baby home in the summer of 1964 – a bedroom, matron’s office and laundry – so extended the action out from the front of the stage.
Every detail had been considered, with some lovely 1960s features and even a sink with actual running water!
It was also nice touch that an arch doorway had been created for the laundry, so that the room on floor level appeared complete, rather than the cast having to just walk off to the side.
Kate said she was impressed with the attention to detail, like the washing on the line and a wooden airer, and commented in her adjudication on the good use of different levels and the clear differences between the three rooms.
Sally had also chosen some great music from the era, which appeared to be played on an old record player (thanks to some good timing from the sound crew), and there was a lovely dance routine in the laundry.
Be My Baby runs at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street, Southwick, until Saturday. All performances are at 7.30pm. Tickets are £11 from the box office on 01273 597094 or online at southwickplayers.org.uk
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