Do we get over our childhood? Or are we destined to relive aspects of it throughout our whole adult lives?
Can we ever escape? These questions are raised in this haunting production, the latest from the Traverse Theatre Company.
strangers, babies is a story of one woman told in five parts – five separate encounters with men in her life. Bit by bit, her puzzling past becomes unravelled, and so it seems, does she.
There is the feeling of looking in on May, the protagonist, and random encounters in her life. The audience seating in the Traverse theatre is incredibly high, and that adds to the effect of being perched watching the goings on of May.
With a simple set of a number of large light boxes and a sparsely populated stage, the focus is very much on intense human interaction. May and one of five men from her life… Written by seasoned playwright (previous plays include Shimmer, One Good Beating and the Fringe First winning Riddance), the dialogue is both choppy and emotive.
May is played by Gillian Kearney, whose acting career was launched when she appeared as Debbie McGrath in Brookside over twenty years ago, and has continued to prosper both on screen and onstage. Kearney puts forward a magnetic aspect to her performance, drawing the audience into her own private world that seems inexplicable. I found myself wanting to understand what motivated her, what drove her character’s seeming indecision, but also her determination.
From the very beginning, when we hear the sound of children playing offstage, it seems that there is something else going on other than what can be seen onstage. And in family life it can be that way, that things are never really what they seem. People can act in contradictory ways, and when May's behaviour is viewed as one woman’s motivation born of an incident in her childhood, it becomes even more fascinating.
Spot on in so many ways, strangers, babies is a slick production with a very real heart.