Review: Be My Baby, Leeds Playhouse, until June 1. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or

AS the new Playhouse frontage emerges from its chrysalis, so the Pop-Up repertory company gathers for the last time in the workshop temporary theatre.

The men have left already, much like they are absent from Nottingham playwright Amanda Whittington’s poignant play, peppered with girl-group teenage anthems of the Sixties, from The Ronettes to The Shangr i-Las, sung live by Jacqui Honess-Martin's cast of six, here bolstered by Anna Gray from the Mind The Gap learning disability theatre company, on Amanda Stodley's open-plan set of laundry, bedrooms and matron's office.

Whittington, a journalist by training, tells the story of the young women who fell from grace, making their "one mistake" and ending up in church-run maternity homes for unmarried mothers. These homes facilitated fast, efficient tracks to adoption, but Whittington records how the young women spoke of being sent away like criminals to live out their pregnancy in secrecy and shame.

Here, the latest arrival at one such northern mother and baby home in 1964 is bank cashier Mary Adams (Simone Bitmate). Mary is 19, pregnant by a medical student and unmarried, brought there by her mother (Jo Mousley), who is instructed by the dispassionate Matron (Susan Twist) not to let her husband know why.

The forlornly determined Mary joins the knowing, complex Queenie (Crystal Condie), the hopelessly romantic Dolores (Tessa Parr) and the naive Norma (Gray), who bond over her record collection.

Whittington embellishes the comic-strip mini-dramas and Greek chorus commentary of Phil Spector’s haunting pop hits by interlacing teenage crushes, innocence and hope with 1960s' gloom and the trauma of relinquishing new-born babies. Twist and Bitmate are outstanding as the play's shards of painful truth cut ever deeper. CH