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Baby Jesus Freak (Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Mathew (Ben Jewell) has visions of his as-yet unborn niece Ruth (Gemma F Flannery) sent by God to ensure that her birth takes place. This could be tricky - her conception was a drunken one-night stand between born-again Christian Daniel (Adam Lowe) and Matthew’s old flame Lauren (Natalie Hudson) and Daniel has since formed a relationship with fundamentalist Bethany (Clare Dean).
The plot of Baby Jesus Freak is hard to summarise and so too are the complex issues that the play contains. Belief, familial relationships, the right to life, a woman’s right to choose and personal responsibility are all mixed into a satisfying blend. This makes the play sound like a heavy soap opera but writer Ian Winterton tackles the subjects with a feather light touch, emphasising the personal aspects, and excellent dialogue.
Part of the success of the play is due to director Matthew Gould creating believable relationships between the characters. One can see the deep family ties between Matthew and Daniel despite their strong differences of opinion. Daniel’s faith seems grounded in his affection for his parents, whose beliefs he shares, than any abstract concept.
It is a strong ensemble cast and in the intimate studio environment one can appreciate the facial work of Jewell and Lowe- the latter uses his hangdog looks to great effect whilst Lowe’s deep eyes bring out the internal conflict of Daniel.
Baby Jesus Freak is an entertaining and thought-provoking play leading to an ending that will have the most cynical audience in tears.
- Dave Cunningham


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