Last update less than

What's On

Reviews

Taking Care of Baby

Published Wednesday 9 May 2007 at 13:15 by Richard Edmonds

Docu-dramas have a way of boring the pants off their audience, who may, nevertheless, feel a sneaking sense of guilt should they happen to come away feeling insufficiently chastised. But that is the legacy of indifferently-written material. Dennis Kelly is in another class altogether, and his latest play, which concerns the predicament and subsequent trial of Donna McAuliffe, a young mother convicted of the murder of her two children, is almost aggressively good, with a fine company who consistently give it their best shot.

The stage, in Patrick Connellan’s design, is starkly bare except for a doll in a rose-edged box, representing infant vulnerability. A scattering of chairs and a single table are all that is needed while the flow of ideas, traumas and interrogations take place. Anthony Clark never allows the tension to drop and his use of a single chair or a couch, depending on the status of the character under interrogation - from Donna herself to a dodgy psychologist - is admirable.

Kelly does not pull his punches and his text, constructed from an actual case history, is set around a bitter criticism of governmental cheap-skate mendacity, something we see through the eyes of Donna’s mother, a parliamentary candidate selfishly terrified that her daughter’s predicament may affect her chances on the hustings.

The canvas is large, yet Kelly never loses his focus, and he takes a cunning swipe at over-ambitious supermarket chains anxious to set up new branches which overwhelm and destroy rural settlements to the point of extinction.

Truth is a word which frequently surfaces in an exciting script, and the statement is reiterated that truth does not exist, it is purely subjective - a conclusion not unknown to Pilate. Move that idea on to judge and jury and you leave the theatre wondering if she did indeed kill her children.

Clark uses a Big Brother voice and a single spot to close a rare and facinating evening. A new, composed Donna, tells her questioner she intends to marry and then tells us she is pregnant again. It is a dark and imponderable thought you take away with you into the night.

Production information

The Door, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, May 3-19, then touring until June 23

Author:
Dennis Kelly
Director:
Anthony Clark
Producer:
Hampstead Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Cast:
Zoe Aldrich, Michael Bertenshaw,Abigail Davies, Ellie Haddington, Christopher Ravenscroft, Nick Sidi
Running time:
2hrs 30mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

Search Amazon for Taking Care of Baby items Search for tickets at Ticketmaster

Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15
Loading