B is for Baby, by Carmel Winters

Monday, 4 October, 2010

Sex and intellectual disability

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival 2010 – Abbey Theatre (Peacock Stage) – 8pm (90 minutes – not including interval) (matinees at 2.30pm on October 2, 6, 9, 13 & 16) – September 30-October 16 (except Sundays)

This play is set in a care home for those with intellectual disabilities, and has four characters played by two actors: including two of the clients living in the home, one of their carers and her husband.

The clients are like chalk and cheese, the loveable and childlike ‘B’, played wonderfully by Louis Lovett, and his tormentor but secret admirer, the acidic ‘Dee’, played by Michele Moran.  Into this tinderbox comes the new relief carer, ‘Mrs C’, whose main objective at this time of her life is to conceive a baby.

There is a lot of humour in the play, derived for the most part from B’s playful innocence and Dee’s toxic wit, with the latter showing that those with intellectual disabilities are not all cute and cuddly like B.

But as the story progresses, hidden underneath the warm folds of comedy are some shocking dark secrets, which induce deeply conflicting emotions, with the audience thrown backwards and forwards about the morality of what is happening.

The set’s backdrop, which is white and positive, but with rips in two parts that look like torn cotton wool, are almost a metaphor for the blanket of safety around the special needs clients being rent open.

It says much that the most sympathetic character is Lovett’s ‘B’, who is probably the most intellectually disabled of the four.  The challenge for a normally-abled person of playing someone with intellectual disabilities is a significant one, which Lovett carries off well, making B into a real person with real emotions, rather than just a figure of fun.

Cast Credits: B and Brian – Louis Lovett.  Dee and Mrs C – Michele Moran.

Company Credits: Director – Mikel Murfi.  Writer – Carmel Winters.  Set and Costume Design – Sabine Dargent.  Lighting Design – Paul Keogan.  Company Stage Manager – John Stapleton.  Deputy Stage Manager – Amy Burke.  Assistant Stage Managers – Bronagh Gallagher, Elaine Walsh.  Design Assistant – Erin Lynch.  Voice Director – Andrea Ainsworth.  Casting Director – Holly Ní Chiardha (CDG).  Hair & Make-up – Val Sherlock.  Photography – Ros Kavanagh.  Sign Language Interpreter – Ali Stewart.  Originally Commissioned By – Theatre Lovett.

(c) Colman Higgins

30 September 2010


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