'Babies' review — let's welcome the birth of this heartwarming and hilarious musical

Read our review of new musical Babies, about a group of teens who practise parenting with dolls, now in performances at The Other Palace to 14 July.

Isaac Ouro-Gnao
Isaac Ouro-Gnao

Welcome to the world, Babies! Penned by Jack Godfrey and Martha Geelan, this show first made ripples in 2021 when it won the BYMT New Music Theatre Award. Three years later, following a smashing EP of pop-rock songs and a stop at the Lyric Theatre for a concert run, their hilarious coming-of-age musical is in full swing.

The story follows nine Year 11 students tasked with caring for plastic baby simulators for an entire week. It’s an odd way to start the term but “the year above got pregnant so we’re doing this instead,” we hear sung with awkward enthusiasm in the captivating opening number. What follows are heartwarming discoveries about friendship, family, life and love.

There’s an air of nostalgia about Babies under Geelan’s direction – blaring "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus as we enter The Other Palace definitely helps – and the premise feels right at home with the teen romcoms and dramedies of the early 2000s.

We meet each student as they meet their baby, to a backdrop of moveable lockers, metal-bar scaffolds, and tables designed by Jasmine Swan to elicit memories of old school gyms and worn classrooms.

Leah (Zoë Athena) and Jasmine (Lauren Conroy) drive the overarching story. Leah first resists taking the babies seriously, but softens to the idea as she finds comfort in talking to the doll about her fraying relationship with her absent mum. Athena has an expert handle on both emotional and comedic beats in dialogue and song, becoming more endearing to her friends and us as she opens up about her struggles.

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Jasmine meanwhile unravels from the perfect student to one under immense pressure to succeed, even if that means taking shortcuts. Conroy is given license to play the role like a Disney villain at times to comical effect; “How could this be, Leah?” she obsessively sings when overtaken as the teacher’s favourite.

It is hard to connect the dots between Babies and real-world conversations around teenage pregnancies. When the students decide they’ve had enough of sleepless nights and parenting responsibilities, they chuck their dolls into the sea and cheer with the relief. (Teenage parents, of course, don’t have this choice.)

But, equally, they engage in this rebellious act after realising they’re not ready to grow up. All thanks to the dolls. ‘Let kids be kids’ seems to be the resounding conclusion, a sympathetic if somewhat shallow message about misunderstood teens navigating the world as best they can.

Babies does excel in its light tone however: the funny one-liners and cast chemistry make for a hilarious experience. It's hard to place as a contemporary piece – TikTok references do little to help, and in fact its varied pop-rock, ballad and even rap-style numbers are a millennial’s dream – but this newborn show is sweetly affecting.

Babies is at The Other Palace to 14 July. Book Babies tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credit: Babies (Photos by Matt Crockett)

Originally published on

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