Baby: Congratulations – it’s a Musical! – Barons Court Theatre to Saturday 9th July

Image from imperialproductions.org

Far less cliched and predictable than the title suggests, this is a fun production, following the story of three couples facing the biggest step of all – parenthood. You won’t be rushing out to buy the soundtrack, but this is a well acted, basic production of the type that pub theatre suits best.

I enjoy discovering the pub theatres of London. Tucked away in places you’d rarely notice – next to the toilets or up a semi-invisible set of stairs – they populate the basements and upstairs of drinking establishments from Islington to Clapham.

This one is in a typical Barons Court pub, full of jolly-nice-but-dull-seeming men, sipping  wine with girls who had applied a little too much fake tan. At half seven came the exodus of the sightly-scruffier theatre types and my large glass of Chenin Blanc and I headed down to the basement.

Baby follows three very different couples – fortysomething empty nesters, surprised college juniors and the two who have been trying to conceive for years – through the ups and downs of conception and pregnancy. Initially I was prepared to hate this – after a song or two, secretly wishing for a Cabaret-style secret abortion, just to shake things up a bit. However, I was soon seduced as the plot developed around unexpected corners and the quality of the acting (especially that of the 3 female leads – Liz Izen, Lucy-Jane Quinlan and Claire Taylor-Smith) shone through. The book and lyrics (by Sybille Pearson & Richard Maltby Jr.) are amusing and touching – this is undoubtedly sentimental stuff, but there’s enough real people expressing genuine emotions and reservations to take it from sickly to simply sweet.

Sadly I couldn’t get to this until last night and the run ends tomorrow – but it’s definitely worth a watch if you have a couple of spare hours in West London.

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