Next Door’s Baby

Louise Gold stars as Mrs O’Brien, at The Orange Tree Theatre, from 6 February 2008 (Press night actually 8 February 2008) to 8 March 2008.


Shortly before the show opened, the show’s writers invited the cast to dinner, which was described as follows:

 Last week, they invited the cast back to Kingston for a good old-fashioned knees-up. “There’s a lot of Irish stew eaten in the play, so we thought we’d have them over for some more” says Bernie. “We have this old wooden dining table and, when I looked down at them, it was like watching the O’Briens. Everyone was hitting each other with spoons.”” Bernie Gaughan, interviewed by Nancy Groves, The Richmond & Twickenham Times, 8 February 2008, RT2, p23.



Mrs O’Brien – Louise Gold

Larry – Vincent Shiels

Sheila – Clare Louise Connolly

Dickie (also Christy uncredited)– Stephen Carlile

Orla – Riona O’Connor

Mrs Hennessy – Brenda Longman

Miriam  - Emily Sills

Mr Hennessy/Uncle Willie (also Ferryman uncredited – Robert Gill

Dymphna – Elinor Lawless

Conrad/Fr Frank – Peter Basham


Production Team

Music and Lyrics by – Matthew Strachen

Book by – Bernie Gaughan

Original Production – 6 February 2008 at The Orange Tree Theatre with Louise Gold as Mrs O’Brien. Had previously been workshopped at The Orange Tree Theatre with Zoe Ann Bowen as Mrs O’Brien, and a demo recording was made with Kim Ismay as Mrs O’Brien.

Director – Paul Prescott

Musical Director – David Randall

Set Designer – Sam Dowson

Lighting Designer – Stuart Burgess

Assistant Director – Katie Henry

Stage Manager – Stuart Burgess

Deputy Stage Manager – Sophie Acreman

Assistant Stage Manager – Rebecca Flisher

Production Technicians – Leanne Simmonds, and, Dan Staniforth


For a rather full review/account of the piece, please click here.

Librettist Bernie Gaughan is also a novelist, known as Bernadette Strachen.

This show marks the first time Louise Gold herself has appeared at The Orange Tree Theatre, however she is the third member of her family to do so, but the first in the present building. Practically 27 years to the day this production opened, her mother appeared in a production of Uncle Vanya in the old room above The Orange Tree Pub. While in the Autumn of 1999, her brother appeared in the theatre’s very last show in the old room above the pub.

Louise Gold may not have appeared at The Orange Tree before, she has however appeared at the town’s other Theatre, Richmond Theatre, on the green, as a touring actress: thirteen years ago in Noel/Cole: Let’s Do It, and eleven years ago in The Cherry Orchard; in addition to appearing in the film Topsy Turvy. She has also appeared on the West London fringe at the Hammersmith Lyric Studio Theatre in Angry Housewives, and, Lady Into Fox respectively.

However, this production was apparently the first time Louise Gold has acted in a theatre-in-the-round.

According to the programme notes, Clare Louise Connolly had previously been appearing, along with Louise Gold, in the final cast of the West End production of Mary Poppins, but your webmaster has not so far found any reference to this in a programme or on the website dealing with that show.

David Randall had previously played in The Drury Lane Orchestra for The Royal Variety Performance (1982).

Louise Gold has previously appeared in two other stage productions that commented on Catholicism, namely a production of the play Once A Catholic,  and the original London production of the musical Nunsense.

Stephen Carlile, and, Louise Gold had previously taken part in A Celebration Of The Life And Work Of Dick Vosburgh.



Critics Comments

 “The bonus lies in the intensity of the performance under Paul Prescott’s direction. Louise Gold as Mrs O’Brien is a tower of strength, expressing the spiritual dourness of a dogged Dublin mum. Riona O’Connor as the exploited Orla, Emily Sills as the victimised Miriam and Stephen Carlile as a frustrated O’Brien boy also sing exceptionally well. I just wish all the skill were applied to a subject that craved musical treatment” Michael Billington, THE GUARDIAN, Monday 11 February 2008.

 “How should we feel when a stereotype is validated? Into Bernie Gaughan’s nostalgic semi-autobiographical musical set in 1950’s Dublin comes a ‘formidable’, trousers-wearing widowed mother, browbeating sons and daughters alike, as the family struggles through economic and emotional hardship with an unsurprising mixture of stoicism and bitter, ironic humour. Mrs O’Brien (played with muscular pathos by Louise Gold) maintains an unneighbourly rivalry with the middle class Hennessys next door.” Robert Crowe, TIME OUT, February 13-19 2008.

 “A certain rhythmical complexity, however, sets apart Louise Gold’s soliloquies, and the reprise of the opening number ‘Hold it All Together’ précis the nature of existence living on an oppressive Dublin Terrace to round off this accomplished production.” Ben Geaghan, THE IRISH WORLD, 5 March 2008.

 “While the matriarchs – splendidly played as polar opposites by dowdy Louise Gold and glam Brenda Longman – do the mothering, the real mums struggle with secrets that neither Catholic morals nor neighbourhood reputation permit them to reveal”....  “But what elevates the Orange Tree above a West End stage can also hamper. In such a small space, the singers have no need for amplification but some cast members over-sing so that, at times, the sound is rather strained.” Nancy Groves, RICHMOND & TWICKENHAM TIMES, 22-29 February 2008.

 “In Paul Prescott’s zesty production, Louise Gold’s tremendous Mrs O’Brien is first seen making bread, combining her ingredients with the same firm hand that holds her family together. Later, in a rare moment of solitude, she sings of her dead husband; an aching loneliness and longing for her lost love and girlhood emerges from the tough carapace of her workaday persona.” Sam Marlowe, THE TIMES, 13 February 2008.

 “Then we're off, as the stoic widow Mrs O'Brien (Louise Gold) kneads the dough, frets about her large family and plots victory for infant Connor over young Hennessy in the local Bonny Baby competition.” .... “Gold is affecting as the careworn, permanently beaproned Mrs O'B, who long ago chose brusque efficiency as her default setting, and the likeable O'Connor gives Orla some real emotional clout. Now that the funding is guaranteed, perhaps a dialect coach could be called in for a day's work?” Fiona Mountford, EVENING STANDARD / THIS IS LONDON, 11 February 2008.

 “Near the opening, ‘Just Grand’ neatly displays the two family matriarchs at the post-box, hiding their baby-competition entries. It’s not a great song, but at least it links character and action. Louise Gold sings well but it’s in her acting of the determined, overbearing Mrs O’Brien that she’s supreme. The songs only get in the way of exploring further her embittered relationship with Orla.” Timothy Ramsden, REVIEWS GATE, 14 February 2008.

 “A strong ensemble cast bring an intimacy to their characterisations.” Mark Shenton, SUNDAY EXPRESS, 24 February 2008.

 “Riona O’Connor is excellent in the former role, making a compelling emotional journey and holding her own opposite the formidable Louise Gold as her battleaxe mother;” Ian Shuttleworth, FINANCIAL TIMES, 11 February 2008.

 “Instead of an overture or perhaps a company ensemble routine, the play opens with Louise Gold as the spirited Mrs O’Brien delivering a gritty, unsettling solo, Hold It All Together, which has more to do with domestic pressures than kinship or family celebration.”... “Even Louise Gold’s Mrs O’Brien has what might be called a Kander & Ebb ‘Coloured Lights’ moment when she dreams of dancing with the ghostly presence of her late husband Christy as they first meet on a Dublin dance floor.” John Thaxter, BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE, 2008.

  “Louise Gold plays the materfamilias as a spirited, working-class woman keeping a family scandal within her four walls - Holding It All Together as she sings in her gritty opening solo.” John Thaxter, THE STAGE, Monday 11 February.

 “The performances are quite beautiful. Heading them is Louise Gold (as Mrs O’Brien) on fine form. Feisty, opinionated, even cruel at times.” Lynda Trapnell, MUSICAL STAGES, Spring 2008.


Links about Next Door’s Baby

Next Door’s Baby, the show’s Official Site:

The Orange Tree Theatre’s Official Site:

Wikipedia Entry for the show:'s_Baby

Strawbgawn, Matthew Strachen, and, Bernie Gaughan’s Official Website:

Author Bernadette Strachen’s Official Website:

The Guardian Newspaper’s review of the show, by Michael Billington:,,2255628,00.html

The Financial Timess’s review of the show, by Ian Shuttleworth :

The Stage’s review of the show, by John Thaxter: (includes a photograph of some of the cast, including Louise)

This Is London / The Evening Standard’s review of the show, by Fiona Mountford:'s+Baby/ (includes a photograph of Louise Gold and Riona O’Connor on the show)

The Times’s review of the show, by Sam Marlowe: 

Richmond & Twickenham Times (the local paper)’s review of the show, by Nancy Groves:

Reviews Gate’s review of the show, by Timothy Ramsden:

British Theatre Guide’s review of the show, by John Thaxter:

The Irish World’s review of the show, by Ben Geaghan:

The Best Of Richmond’s entry for the show:

Visit Richmond’s page advertising the show:

Richmond And Twickenham Times (local paper) article about the show’s authors (and the time they invited the cast to dinner):

Rogues And Vagabonds’s entry for The Orange Tree:

Actually Actors’ page for MD David Randell:

The Stage’s listing for the show:

Theatremaina’s page for the show:

Arts Richmond Newsletter, mentions the show (and arts council funding situation):

Visit London’s entry for the show:

Whats On In Wimbledon, Wandsworth And Putney (mentions the show, although it’s actually in Richmond):

Kingston Online’s theatre page (mentions the show, although it’s actually in Richmond):

Inside Clapham’s list of what is on (mentions the show, although it’s actually in Richmond):

The Best Of Richmond, mentions the show:

St Margaret’s Community Website, entry for The Orange Tree (gives a brief history of the theatre):

Kiosk 4 ts page for the show (you can book tickets online through them):;jsessionid=AA681DA11E051E61783F1C4D1693E9C9.app03?option=1&action=options_list&state=ADDCHOICE&pageid=0’s archive’s entry announcing the show:

The London Paper’s listing for the show:

Croydon Guardian, a free paper’s review of the show (actually a copy of the review in The Richmond And Twickenham Times):

A review, by Emma Shane, of seeing Riona O’Connor return to The Orange Tree in The Lady Or The Tiger:

I Value The Arts Campaign – seeks to safeguard, promote and develop the arts as a key element of our national culture. It is a campaign to empower people who value the arts to think about the arts services they believe to be important to their local community. It is supported by a wide variety of people and organisations (including arts trade unions such as Equity, and, BECTU). For more information see:  (nothing to do with either this show, or The Orange Tree, but, the Orange Tree is a fringe theatre, who at the time of this show had narrowly escaped having its funding cut)


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