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Review: Baby X at The Bondi Pavilion

Updated: Aug 31, 2019

By Liam Shand Egan

The debut play for Crashing Water Theatre Co couldn’t have been more timely, dealing with the recent cultural moment surrounding LGBTQI families and asking what role genetic donors play in these families. The show is, by design, a comedy and from the outset, it needs to let you know that. The show is relentless in the search for laughs, but unfortunately, often finds itself dancing too close to that fine line between clever comedy and crude sexual innuendo. Most disappointingly, for a show that could be at the forefront of an important discussion for the LGBTQI community, instead much of it falls to lazy stereotyping that makes the characters unbelievable and, to be blunt, offensive. With characters named only 'Angry Dyke,' it would be safe to say this show won't make any Mardi Gras festivals in the near future. Being a show that features queer content does not give license to stereotyping queer characters and it is a shame that the production couldn't overcome this vital flaw. 

The cast should be commended with only 4 people playing 17 different roles, with Antony Press playing 7 including an anthropomorphised sperm. However, there seemed to be a lack of familiarity with the space and scenes would often begin and end with very little movement off the starting positions. The chemistry between the 3 main characters was lacking for a group of people who supposedly will be starting a family. Zara Paternoster’s comedic timing was a highlight for me but the moments where she is trying to support her partner have a lack of confidence and intimacy. Other standout moments for me among the cast where Press, having to create multiple characters often out of 1 line and Paternoster as the non child-bearing mother gave me a welcome surprise at the half way mark of the show (there is no intermission) that made me sit back and give the show another shot. Thu Nguyen and Joshua Horwitz as Evelyn and Adam respectively also gave commendable performances with Nguyen playing the titular Baby X against Horowitz in the penultimate scene that changed the air in the room for the better The quieter moments of the show, where there is ample scope to find a serious note to compliment the silliness, have been overlooked by the director, Malcolm Frawley, leading to the emotion being surface-level and intimacy non-existent. A few of the scenes had some wonderful moments for the audience to ponder what this all means, but the play seemed afraid to linger on any particular thought.  The main highlight was the technical aspects with Dany Akbar’s well-crafted lighting design creating a world that when coupled with the wonderful soundscapes from Clare Hennessy really impressed. Each scene is established with either a full sound design or a distinct lighting feature, sometimes both, and goes a long way to structuring a show with so many different locations. The show’s timeline from conception to birth would have been challenging but for the play being structured around chapters in a baby book so hats off to everyone involved in that idea. 

The show is nervously constructed but there are moments throughout it that, frustratingly, give the audience a view of what could have been. I really hope that this company keeps growing as all the artists involved clearly proved they have the potential and the company knows what makes for relevant content, it just needs to be done right. 

Image Supplied

All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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