REVIEW: Ice Baby; The Ashton Group

The Ashton Group rolled back into town with gritty play, Ice Baby. (s)
The Ashton Group rolled back into town with gritty play, Ice Baby. (s)

A blast of bitingly cool drama burned its way into my heart when it hit Burnley Youth Theatre last Friday.

The Ashton Group celebrated its 20th birthday by thawing out one of its earliest shows, Ice Baby, for revival.

The play was inspired by news of a woman imprisoned for leaving her baby in a car in winter to go out clubbing. But it flips the tale to depict a teen mum, Leanne, who is betrayed by friends and victimised by her circumstances.

This gritty story interwove a subplot of bumbling goblins attempting to steal Leanne’s baby. Not only adding well-executed humour, the goblins mirrored the men who prey on the girl’s vulnerability. This mix of realism and folktale illuminated the bleak truth that happy endings are often denied to teens without support or role models.

Still, there was an elegance to the show: it rolled through scenes, weaving in physical theatre to blanket Leanne’s rape for less distressing viewing. But, by minimising the discomfort, it highlighted society’s tendency to turn away from the struggles of poor, teen mums and enshroud them in harsh stereotypes.

Retaining its relevancy, Ice Baby offered vivid performances from the entire cast to cut through society’s icy walls of stereotypes and deliver an emotional sting.