Sex – that most natural of acts between consenting adults has been surrounded since time immemorial by shame, guilt and ignorance. Not the act itself perhaps, but it’s consequences.
In the aftermath of two world wars and the looming threats embedded in the Cold War, teenagers in the 1960s had a different outlook on life. It was the era when celebrity became an attainable goal as evidenced by the like of Dusty, Cilla and Cliff. That is the backdrop to Amanda Whittington’s ‘Be My Baby’ playing at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.
The story of Mary Adams’ ‘fall from grace’ and her mother’s desire to keep her husband ignorant of his daughter’s misdemeanours is a story as old as time. Perhaps what could have helped make this story standout would have been a deeper insight into the backdrop of the 60s – admirably detailed in the programme but missing I fear from the stage delivery. Audio clips of Dusty, Cilla and the Rondettes will have awakened memories for those of a certain age but younger audiences may require more context.
The cast, led by Brook Vincent (Queenie) and Ruth Madoc (Matron) play their parts well as we gradually discover each of the character’s personal circumstances. There is a lot unsaid, a lot left to the imagination and I can’t help wondering if some of the subtleties of script were too subtle for a Monday night in Bury St Edmunds.
If this play highlights anything it highlights incredible ignorance – the ignorance of the young girls to the consequences of their actions. By which I mean a society and an education system which leaves many women uneducated about their bodies and allows young men to believe that they bear no responsibility what-so-ever.
As a play ‘Be My Baby’ is now over ten years old and is a set text for GCSC English Literature. Its popularity prompting this latest revival. If I am honest I would have liked to have heard more of the 60s music sung by the cast who, when they did sing, did so well. But perhaps that was the whole point – the swinging sixties had consequences.
‘Be My Baby’ runs at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds until Saturday 22nd October. For more information or to book visit www.theatreroyal.org.