With Child, Soho Theatre

by guest critic Maeve Campbell

Clare Pointing’s With Child isn’t actually about pregnancy. Facing a show that’s billed as six ‘talking heads’ style monologues delivered by six pregnant characters feels dauntingly alienating when you only know or care a little about trimesters or nursing plans. But thankfully, none of these themes are focused too heavily upon in Pointing’s perceptive, nuanced one woman show.

Pointing is a beautiful and subtle performer – chameleonic as she flawlessly moves between these six different women. She so deftly executes accents and physical characteristics that it’s hard to see any of the actor in the characters. Pointing doesn’t change costume or use much set, which demonstrates an inspiring confidence in her natural performance ability. The comic dances that connect each monologue are also hugely entertaining.

And while Alan Bennet’s influence is all over the form of this show, the material is uniquely feminine. The relationships that Pointing illustrates in these shorts are keenly observed, particularly ones between other women. Eating and exercise provide a universal tie for all these pregnant characters, but that’s all that connects them. There is also something pretty radical about watching a woman eat on a stage without comment. The show’s quiet politics come to a head in a final moving speech from a future mother who is facing the prospect of bringing a child up alone. This final monologue also makes the most overt allusions to pregnancy and how that state is socially judged.

The show is short, coming in at under an hour, and this is a good thing. Although it is a charming, thoughtful piece, any more would tire the format. Pointing seems like she’s having fun with this material and that’s the real draw of this show. It’s a simple idea, well executed which makes for really satisfying viewing.

With Child runs until 15 August.

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