Buggy Baby (Yard Theatre)

My name is Aya. I’m eight months old and I live in a buggy. I share a room with my mum, Nur, and a strange man named Jaden. I bloody love bathtime. 

Jaden, Nur and Aya didn’t always live here. They needed to escape another country and they’ve ended up in a rotting room in East London.

Nur goes to college. When she isn’t there, Jaden chews leaves and hallucinates home. He sees giant rabbits with burning red eyes. He thinks Aya is someone else, someone dangerous. But she’s just a baby. Isn’t she?

From Josh Azouz, writer of the “strange and fascinating” The Mikvah Project (★★★★ Time Out, The Stage), and award-winning director Ned Bennett (★★★★★ Pomona, National Theatre; ★★★★★ An Octoroon, Orange Tree Theatre), comes a horror comedy about trying to build a normal life when nothing about life is normal.

★★★★

 

★★★★ The Guardian, Lyn Gardner:

'Nur (Hoda Bentaher) and Jaden (Noof McEwan) have taken several boats and lorries to get from a place that no longer exists to the room in which they now live with eight-month-old baby, Aya. The baby keeps them together and drives them apart. Jaden cares for her during the day, while Nur goes to college, dreaming on the bus of nuzzling Aya, but reluctant to pick up the child when she returns.

They all dream of a better future, including the baby, who sleeps in a buggy for want of a cot and has a misshapen head to show for it. Brilliantly played by the very grown-up Jasmine Jones, this baby not only speaks but has all the coy, lip-quivering, manipulative cunning – and utter defencelessness – of a tiny child.

Like a surreal Harold Pinter play, Josh Azouz’s brilliantly warped fairytale, with its images of Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and a beanstalk that must be destroyed, is very weird and uncomfortably funny. Ned Bennett’s production, which brings an unsettling horror sensibility to the domestic, is utterly sure of itself. The axe hanging high on the wall to be used “in case of emergency” declares itself as loudly as the gun in Hedda Gabler.

This show is beautifully put together, from Max Johns’s cunningly simple design in which the pinks and Day-Glo colours of the nursery collide with floating furniture, to the growing sense of danger evoked by Giles Thomas’s sound design. And the audience must participate if there is to be any hope at all for these three. This is yet another theatrical happy-ever-after for the Yard.'

★★★★ The Stage, Tim Bano - 'bizarre, baffling, brilliant':

'

Every so often one of those plays comes around whose existence is just completely baffling. Not because it’s no good – far from it – but because it’s so sui generis that it’s difficult to imagine a human mind coming up with it.

Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk is one, Philip Ridley’s The Pitchfork Disney is another, entire worlds existing in one isolated room, pocket universes that are only comparable insofar as they’re not like anything else. So it is with Josh Azouz’s wonderfully, darkly bizarre Buggy Baby, as stubborn and wilful in its oddness as a petulant toddler.

Hoda Bentaher who plays Nur and Noof McEwan as Jaden have completely opposite delivery styles. Bentaher steps carefully through her lines like a mother soothing a child, while McEwan takes them like a machine gun, as if Jaden is high on some stimulant – which he is, and which is possibly why two ultra-violent, droog-like bunnies appear every so often to cause chaos.

As Aya, Jasmine Jones has got the mannerisms of an eight-month-old down pat, her uncoordinated hand movements, her instinct to put everything within grasp into her mouth, the tottering way she walks. She’s a brilliant comic performer, eyeing up the audience to find exactly the right moment for a line – the baby talks, by the way, and it has a foul mouth. [...] This is a play that exists at one remove from reality, and is all the more brilliant for doing so.'

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NUR/ Hoda Bentaher
AYA/ Jasmine Jones
JAYDEN/ Noof McEwan
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