Review: Babies, The Other Palace

Who’s a pretty excellent new musical then? Babies might just make you go goo-goo ga-ga at The Other Palace

“You can find me buying talcum powder over in Boots
Or if you come to H&M, I’m looking for romper suits”

As Babies begins, setting out its premise literally in its opening four lines, its catchy refrain of baby-baby-baby already on repeat and its high school archetypes all present and correct as this class of teenagers are presented with an unlikely school project, a moment of doubt crept into my mind. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Martha Geelan (book) and Jack Godfrey’s (music & lyrics) new musical to upend preconceptions and prove itself utterly charming.

So yeah, there’s the swot, the wild child, the picture-perfect It couple, the nerd with no friends, the moody one who disappeared for a bit. But as they’re charged with looking after a plastic robot baby simulator for a week, due to a spike in pregnancies in the year above, expectations get tossed into the air as the challenges of fake parenting play out in surprising ways. And even as someone who is old enough, gulp, to be their parents, there’s much to chime with life’s experiences.

The secrets we feel we have to hide even from our loved ones, the swagger that comes from being at peace with one’s identity, the sting of perceived betrayal from our friends, the pressure felt to be perfect whether from by peers, parents or social media, these teenage dilemmas are brought to life entertainingly in Geelan’s book, particularly in how she plays with those stereotypes. Geelan also directs with a refreshingly uncomplicated vision, Jasmine Swan’s scaffolding-inspired set endlessly flexible as it switches from classroom to clifftop to house party gone wild.

Godfrey’s music also impresses as it reveals layers to its modern pop stylings, most entertainingly in the 90s bro-pop of ‘Hot Dad’, sensationally led by Ashley Goh front and centre and Alexzandra Sarmiento’s rocking choreography. Lyrics are frequently laugh out loud funny and there’s some decent balladry, particularly from Zoë Athena’s Leah, whose secret pain drives so much of the action for this group. Ferociously contemporary with its refreshingly angst-free multiple queer characters, unafraid of a cheesy moment here and there and rightfully brimming with confidence, it is Babies-making time.

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