Labour of Love
Labour of Love La Cremeria Theatre Fringe Festival January 15 This 45-minute show from the Hong Kong players was conceived as a workshop piece, and unfortunately was born prematurely into the theatre.
Through a series of short sketches and exercises the cast of six women, directed by Sally Dellow, attempted to explore some of the pressures that modern-day women are under to have children and the kind of experiences they have once they give birth. Contraception, constipation, cohabitation and school homework.
You don't realise, said one mum with feeling, that after they've been delivered once in a hospital that there are going to be 20 years of deliveries in a car.
There were plenty of things that worked: the emergence of the cast through a vaginal door at the beginning was funny and offbeat. And I loved Lucy. Lucy was named after that early hominid discovered by Richard Leakey, and was deftly expanded by the cast to represent the whole of womankind. Through a fast dance-based choreography we saw Lucy evolve from her birth as a slug, wriggling through the primeval slime, to her sending a fax via a laptop modem.
The summaries of the differences between mankind and womankind were also funny - where she sees a fragrant mountain meadow, he sees somewhere to drive his tractor.
But this was a very middle-class white experience with - strangely - almost no Hong Kong context, which meant that the show tended to drift towards generalities.
The actors were too often confirming the cliches rather than exploring their own personal experiences. A scene where an unmarried woman falls pregnant and everyone around her rolls their eyes and chants 'whore' did not seem very relevant to 1998.
There was altogether too much keening and rolling around the ground, and a scene where post-natal depression was illustrated by a woman cutting her baby with a chopper was plain embarrassing. A hand raised and regretted would have been many times more powerful.