Reviewer: Emily Hall
This year, Traverse Theatre’s breakfast plays were selected from a collection from The Birth Project, an organisation promoting discussion about global health inequality. Four plays make up B!rth, focusing on motherhood in the UK, the US, Syria and India respectively. This review covers Choices by Stacey Gregg, a poignant reflection on female experiences of birth in the United Kingdom.
Tessa Parr makes up the entire cast, captivating the entire, groggy audience from behind the podium holding her script. She tells the story of two girls: one searching for pregnancy and another coping with it.
Multiple generations of women, a variety of topics and the common thread of women challenging societal expectations help to make this play feel lifelike. Parr effortlessly shifts from conversational to confessional to emotional. Beautiful, painful details animate the stories framed within Gregg’s own reflections about femininity and her own experiences with her body.
The voice is powerful and the points are nuanced. Some arguments are expertly articulated but even more are painfully demonstrated: the way that the stories of women who don’t “achieve” birth are lost amid endless narratives of gurgling accomplishment and familial joy, the ways that we normalise the public regulation of female bodies, the ways double standards and misconceptions affect women emotionally.
B!rth makes visible the thousands of pregnant women who travel from Northern Ireland to England each year, the women who conflate infertility with inadequacy, the women who can’t financially afford to make choices about their own bodies independently.
Come for the breakfast roll and tea, stay for the moving performance or the enchanting storytelling and leave more compassionate and ready to start a discussion.
Runs until 27 August 2017 | Image: Contributed