The Best Thing is set in the “swinging” 60s; Susan is a teenager, ready to grab life by the hair, with a bobbed haircut, curled eye-lashes and her mini dress. But young love can have unexpected consequences with repercussions that will last for decades to come.
Vamos Theatre is UK’s leading professional full mask theatre company. This time round Rachel Savage, the Artistic Director, was inspired by the unmarried mothers from the 1960s, who gave their babies up for adoption shortly after the birth. Whether it was the church, their family or the prevailing social norms that made them do so, the mantra “it’s the best thing for the baby, it’s the best thing for you” was always bandied about. The Best Thing does not apportion blame; there is no villain here, no moralistic, hardened dragon of a character nor is there a clearly defined ideology to be followed; it’s just a story to be told. Rather people that came at a crossroads, made their choices and lived with the consequences; unwittingly, those affected the lives of the babies as well, in more ways than one.
The excellent cast and impeccable production deliver a performance that conjures up reality and sentiment out of silence, with Janie Armour’s music the perfect accompaniment. From the vastly different music taste of the teenage Susan and her middle-aged father to the mannerism the elderly man and the mysterious woman share at the memorial service – hinting at a connection; from the awkward and tender love scene behind a screen to the hilarious vignettes at the typing school and the maternity ward.
It is a sensitive, funny and highly entertaining performance, despite its slightly hurried end that left gaps in the story and the overall rose-tinted approach that stole depth from an otherwise accomplished production.