BWW Review: BUGGY BABY, Yard Theatre
This is one of those plays that make you question how a human brain ever came up with it.
Deliberately messy in its composition but acutely tight-knitted in its execution, Ned Bennett's quirky production alienates, whilst at the same time intrigues. The entire room is filled with bewilderment, yet there's an enjoyment within that curiosity, as we actively attempt to work out what's going on.
So what is happening? Baby Aya, her mother Nur and their protector Jaden all live together in a run-down property. They're immigrants, although their country (or countries) of origin is never specified. Nur and Jaden are together, yet it seems to be a pairing of convenience, rather than one of romance.
Whilst Nur attempts to better their lives by going to college, Jaden (who can't speak English) stays at home to babysit. But in reality he spends his days 'chewing' enormous amounts of an unknown herb. This habit causes him to have hallucinations of ultra-angry human-size rabbits, that terrify you as they emerge out of nowhere from blackout.
Some staged moments are elongated and others happen in quick bursts. Bath time lasts forever, Nerf guns are fired at the audience, we play keepy uppy with giant inflatables and then all of a sudden Baby Aya has jet packed to the top of a floating wardrobe. It's a chaotic, disorientating and overwhelming creation that could have only come from Bennett's brilliant brain.
Jasmine Jones' characterisation of the baby is pitched to perfection. Her comic timing is brilliant and she knows exactly how to play the infantile mannerisms so that it highly entertains. Jones holds the audience in the palm of her hands; this baby talks and what comes out of her mouth is pure filth.
As the play progresses, the visions get wilder and more dangerous. Giles Thomas' sound design suffocates the air in the room, encouraging paranoia and ensuring the entire production is a sensorial overload. Combine this with Max John's kooky design and you get an acid-trip 'esque state of discombobulating disorder.
Overall it's a brilliantly bonkers new play, featuring a talking baby, which throws all of its toys out of the pram as it takes its audience on the surrealist of journeys. I really don't mind not understanding everything - it's an oddly thrilling sensation to be confused.
Buggy Baby at the Yard Theatre until 31 March
Photo credit: The Other Richard