Marnie promised herself she would never go for a poo in the school toilets, but her bowels have had other ideas lately. As she’s dealing with this embarrassment and worrying about her health, we get insight into her innards, where white blood cells are waging war on her colon. This is conveyed by an audio narration focusing on a brand-new cell getting to grips with their job, guiding listeners through the human anatomy and what happens when the body attacks itself.
The NHS estimates that postpartum psychosis affects around 1 in 500 mothers shortly after giving birth. Zena Forster’s explosive new dark comedy after birth looks at this, whilst being a real crowd-pleaser. Brutally honest and equally tender and tough, mother-of-two Ann (played by Sally Tatum) and her new-born are trapped in a mother and baby unit after Ann was sectioned for displaying postpartum psychosis symptoms shortly after giving birth.
First put on in 2015, this is a welcome return for Incognito Theatre’s adaptation of the novel and film of the life and trials of five German friends on the front during World War One. Fitting it all into an hour-long show is a tough task, but the five talented actors do extremely well to succeed in doing so. With minimal props and using the power of dialogue, they move from initial recruitment to punishing an overly arrogant corporal, to fighting on the front and being forced to reside in a military hospital.
Rosa’s been bloated and uncomfortable for about week, but she’s sure it’s nothing. She just needs to find some clothes that hide it, and are also suitable for a first date. A week after that, convinced the pain is something she’s eaten or trapped wind, she’s diagnosed with cancer. It’s 1 April 2018. She’s only 23 years old. Despite her hopes for it to be the year she sorts her life out, the reality is much more stark and scary.
So many of us are guilty of idolising women without investing in their stories. Frida Kahlo’s memory is probably one of the most exploited in the art world. She’s on rucksacks; she’s on pencil cases; she’s perpetually immortalised on cotton tote bags. But how many of us have genuinely spent time learning about her? Maybe that’s too cynical, but the phrase ‘I love Frida Kahlo!’ has fallen out of my mouth on so many occasions when, actually, what do I know? Probably not enough.
“It’s a sexy song about eating.” Francesca Forrestal says to the front row, before Oddball begins. She’s referring to “Bon Appetite” by Katy Perry that plays on a pre-set loop. At the same time, she’s limbering up – swinging her arms, chatting nonchalantly with the audience, and building a familiar relationship she carries throughout the performance – when the show has begun and latecomers enter halfway through one of her speeches, she unflinchingly welcomes them and instantly settles back into the script as though nothing happened. The ease with which she captivates and holds the room is enchanting in itself.
The Archive of Educated Hearts shows a steely determination to deliver a hopeful and uplifting whirlwind tour through the lives of four women affected by breast cancer. Casey Jay Andrews presents this deeply personal, yet painfully universal, experience with the utmost kindness and calm. This provides the audience with a space to celebrate the women who make up the narrative of the piece, and also take time to reflect on their own experiences of cancer.
Night can be a time of rest and escape, or mystery and danger where anything can happen. For people with chronic illnesses, vampires lurk in the darkness whilst those around you sleep. In the wee hours of the morning, playwright Eve Leigh seeks refuge online from her pain and corporeal limitations. Whilst it’s all too easy to condemn the downsides of an extremely online lifestyle, Leigh celebrates its ability to fly her around the world when her body lets her down. This millennial fever-dream of memories, horror stories and conspiracy theories blur the real and the internet’s dark corners as two actor/avatars and colour-soaked design convey the realities of a life punctuated by an uncooperative body.