REVIEW: The Female Edit: Mother? (The Chapel Playhouse) ★★★★

The Female Edit: Mother? is a new show produced, directed, written, and performed by women at the Chapel Playhouse. Curated by Lucy McCabe & Deborah Wastell from The Female Edit, a creative collective formed in 2018, aiming to contribute to the conversation about gender equality through creative work.

The show is a collection of short pieces of new writing; motherhood is a subject much talked and thought about. The Female Edit received over 100 submissions from which they selected just fourteen, presenting a diverse range of female voices exploring what it means to be a mother, to be child free and all the places between.

The Chapel Playhouse is a small, intimate space; a simple stage with three chairs and a table repurposed for each performance in front of a black curtain. The power of these stories is in the telling. What could be a heavy and serious topic is lightened by the skillful curation of the pieces.

Starting with ‘20 Reasons Why Not’, three women list reasons they don’t feel ready to have a child; ‘Who’s Mom & Who’s Mama’ follows two women about to meet their adopted daughter for the first time. ‘I Have Some News’ lightens the mood as a woman explains pregnancy and motherhood to her horrified friend; ‘For My Mother’ is an emotional poem from Helen Foster. ‘Henrietta’ shows a daughter seeking to learn about her mother whose cells were harvested to further medical science. ‘Happiness Batteries’ shows the switched roles of a teenage daughter caring for her sick mother. ‘Troll’ shows a pushy mother taken to extremes.

‘Polly Pocket and the Mum from Peterborough’ explores the way mothers are judged differently from fathers; ‘Mother’s Pride’ shows a mother coming to terms with a trans child. ‘Mifepristone & Misoprostol’ is a monologue from a pregnant young woman in Northern Ireland making tough choices. ‘A Way to Go’ switches to black comedy with a pensioner’s interaction with a burglar. ‘A Letter to My Unborn Son’ is a powerful poem from Blair McAlpine speaking to the child she’ll never meet. ‘Uterus-less’ talks of the complexities of surrogacy and the final piece, ‘Oeuf’, has the last two eggs in a woman’s ovary realising it’s their turn.

The Female Edit: Mother? is a showcase of female writing, directing and performing talent with lots of names to look out for. Challenging and personal themes were delivered with sensitivity and care and just enough humour. Follow The Female Edit on social media to hear about their next show, it’ll be worth watching.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans


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