OnStage Los Angeles Critic
Gelato, a bouquet of flowers, a constantly ringing phone, and a turkey baster—this may seem like a random list of objects, but believe it or not, all of these items play critical roles in Baby Oh Baby, the British comedy play currently in its world premiere at Los Angeles’s Whitefire Theatre. As both the title and the show’s artwork, a ticking clock, correctly lead you to believe, Baby Oh Baby is certainly in part about the desire to have children while staring down your biological clock. Primarily, however, it is a truly funny farcical romp about sisterhood and dating in the modern era.
Bella (Amy Tolsky) and Angie (Felicity Wren) are half-sisters sharing a flat somewhere outside of London. Bella, the older and more pragmatic of the two, runs a matchmaking service for a living but, of course, has had no success finding a match herself. Angie has no trouble finding flings and one-night stands, but fears the clock may be running out on the thing she wants most—a baby. The 80-minute play takes place over the course of one very eventful afternoon and evening in the sisters’ flat, with appearances by Weena (Douglas Scott Sorenson), their flamboyant landlord, Rory (Andrew Katers), Angie’s most recent hookup whom she hopes may become something more, and Chris (Kaelan Strouse), a man Bella meets and invites over for a surprising and hilarious reason I will not spoil.
This play, written by Phil Scarpaci and T.L. Shannon and also directed by Scarpaci, is staged as a classic farce, with plenty of physical and situational comedy, slamming doors, and comings and goings throughout. Largely thanks to the talented cast, the characters are all vibrant and well-drawn—you immediately understand who they all are, and yet they mostly defy stereotypes. Particularly vivid was Bella and Angie’s sisterly bond. Like many siblings, they can quickly go from angrily throwing things at each other to hugging, and their relationship is definitely the emotional heart of the show.
Baby Oh Baby is a rare one-act that left me wanting more. The ending was a bit abrupt, and while it worked, I could easily envision an act two. There were also a few threads I felt were not fully explored. For example, Bella’s career as a matchmaker ended up being largely irrelevant to both her character and the plot, and I kept waiting for it to come into play in a more meaningful way. There are also a couple of plot points, such as a heavy-breathing mystery man who keeps calling and a flower delivery of unknown origin, that are never resolved. I liked the characters enough that I would have been down to spend more time with them, which is something I rarely say as a big fan of one-act shows.
That being said, the short time we spend with Bella, Angie, and company is truly a riot. The events that occur may be ridiculous, but they are justified because people who really, deeply want something, particularly something that has a time limit, tend to act rashly. Perhaps best of all, underneath the dramatic entrances and British slang are some heartfelt emotions that anyone who has found themselves at the mercy of that silly thing called love will understand.
Baby Oh Baby runs at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks on Saturdays at 8pm through June 4th. Tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased at babyohbaby.brownpapertickets.com.