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  • Xi Ye

Review - Party Baggage

Drayton Arms Theatre

Review {Gifted tickets)

Nat (Sharina-Mai Bruno) and Fin (Shaun Nolan) have been friends since they were children and all seemed well until Nat got pregnant, and the father, Fin’s ex-boyfriend, Andrew. While this play seems to promise jealousy and a journey about motherhood, it also touches on friendship, communication and growing up in general. As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that there are existing cracks in Nat and Fin’s friendship and the baby is merely a trigger.


Breaking the fourth wall, the actors address the audience directly as they deliberate on their own narratives, forcing both characters to explicitly describe the events up to that point of the story in detail. Despite a relatively straight forward plot, there is also depth to it, especially around Fin’s struggles and inner turmoil that he will never have a child of his own with the person he loves.


The story gives the audience glimpses of interactions between the two main characters, shifting from that to their own inner thoughts and things that they have done in which the other is not aware of. These add context to how things got to where they are. Perhaps more intriguingly, there are multiple points where Nat and Fin only communicate or do thing for each other because they have to, rather than want to. This is perhaps an interpretation of modern social construct, in which one must live up to what is expected of them, such as throwing a baby shower for your “best friend”.


It is clear that there are pent up resentment, anger and general awkwardness between the two characters, indicating that they have started to drift apart well before the baby. To this end, Nolan’s script and direction effectively demonstrate this discomfort and turning it into humour that garnered the laughter of the audience. However, I had the feeling that some scenes found its way into the final product for the specific purpose of creating comedic effects. For example, Nat sought advice from colleagues at work about the baby shower she missed. While this conversation was funny and lightened the mood, there was no clear recommendation provided by her colleague or how this adds to the progression of the story.


Bruno and Nolan have a wonderful chemistry, at times playful and other times awkward as required. Of note, Bruno’s is a dynamic actor with a myriad of facial expressions and a particular knack for comedy. The characters are well-developed, and while Fin’s character stays fairly consistent, it was revealed that Nat was playing the long game to collect sympathy points. However, I do not feel that the two-year time skip is entirely needed and the fake baby bump toward the end felt a little forced and did not add much to further describe the already strained relationship between the two characters. Although the team has done a good job in creating an unmistakeable stage and where the story takes place, improvements could be made with the sound design to better distinguish the different scenes. The lack of music and sounds for the most part means the actors and the stage need to work that much harder to get the audience into the right moods.


For a small production that operate in a largely black-box stage, the team has done a commendable job in creating a light hearted and meaningful story. The plot is engaging, humourous and highlights the individual character’s perspectives and the lack of communication between them, all of which serve as a trigger to the subsequent plot points. Given further development and focus on the key elements to be retained, the creative team could make more efficient use of their existing materials to enhance the pace of the story. 



Writer, Director and Producer: Shaun Nolan

Technical Stage Manager: Emily Foster

Promotion design: Emily Jenkins

Sound design: Chaya Gupta

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