The Babysitters

Thu 6th – Sat 8th February 2014

reviews

Emily Tilley

at 22:13 on 6th Feb 2014

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‘The Babysitters’ is a short play cram packed full of action, gore, and tea. Its combination of light moments of humour, reminiscent of a drawing-room farce, with unnerving black comedy and striking visual effects, equally reminiscent of ‘Pulp Fiction’, produces a contrast in tone which was extremely successful, and unlike any other play I’ve seen.

A relatively simple scenario, two young crooks tasked with ‘babysitting’ by their boss, was made hugely effective in this production through the exceptionally delivered dialogue. Will Downes, as Eddy, won the audience’s sympathies with his portrayal of the victim of the affair, and his mastery of physical comedy made his scenes convincing and highly entertaining. Hugh Train and Alex Morgan, as Barry and George respectively, played a pair of dapper hitmen whose genteel natures were in stark contrast to their shockingly gruesome acts, yet the actors played these difficult roles with a subtlety that ensured that, for the most part, this incongruity did not seem unbelievable. Instead, it heightened the farcical tone of the play, and allowed the humorously ridiculous to soften the darkness that could have overtaken the production. It was Michael Forbes, as Dave, and Lewis Meade, as Tommy, however, whose performances were the true highlights of the play. The comic duo set themselves up from the outset as a pair of criminals who the audience couldn’t help but like, and their interactions with one another were delivered with such skill and comic timing that the audience was left rolling in the aisles. The cast as a whole worked incredibly well together, and the performance of every individual was truly laudable.

I am loath to ever review a play without some suggestion of improvement, but find that in this case I am truly scraping the barrel. If anything, I would suggest that the scene transitions could be briefer. Overall, however, the production was slick and professional.

The play was truly a joy to watch. I had expected a humorous tale of misunderstanding, ineptitude, and danger, and while these expectations were met, I was surprised to find that there was a gently comical, and, at the end, surprisingly moving theme of friendship in the darkest of situations that gave the story an unexpected depth.

Furthermore, I was amazed to hear that the play was written by Lewis Meade, playing Tommy, and Matt Dann, the director. The two should be extremely proud, and I hope that they go on to write equally impressive plays in the future. ‘The Babysitters’ is deserving of all the accolades it won in 2013’s Durham Drama Festival, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

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