"The four couldn't be more different to one another, their only commonality is that they each have a uterus...and a secret."
The game? A series of mini-challenges designed to strip you down to the absolute core of your vulnerability. The prize? Access to an extremely necessary sexual health procedure. Whose Uterus Is It Anyway? is the newest creation to come from Sydney-based theatre group Bite Productions as part of FreshWorks Femme, a brand-new initiative bringing together some of Sydney's fiercest young female theatre makers.
Image: Mary, the Host and Lila.
Writer Georgie Adamson, director Eve Beck and producer Madelaine Osborn, explore the humiliation that many women (and men) experience when taking themselves to the sexual health clinic. It's fluorescent, uncomfortable and you almost always feel gawked at. Bite Productions takes those real life awkward experiences and pump them up to bursting point, with a cartoon-like host at the helm (Toby Blome) – think Larry Edmur on steroids.
While tackling the meaty subject of body ownership and sexual health rights, the play also comments on society's obsession with voyeuristic practices, which only seem to be gaining momentum (Bachelor in Paradise anyone?). Through the lens of a TV gameshow show, that audience are immediately placed as the voyeurs, whether we like it or not.
For every pre-recorded "boo", "hiss" or drum roll that's hurled from the crowd, you can't help but sink further into your seat. You feel guilty and slightly perverted, as if the noise had come from your very own mouth.
We're introduced to the "contestants": chronically woke student Lila (Annie Stafford), perpetually anxious nun Mary (Alexandra Morgan), persistently skeptical Tom (Finn Murphy) and sarcastically seductive mother Michelle (Chelsea Needham).
The four couldn't be more different to one another, their only commonality is that they each have a uterus... and a secret.
There are four appointments booked for the "contestants" to compete for: an abortion, hormone therapy, STD treatment and IUD procedure. But who is getting what? It's our job – and that of the contestants – to answer that question.
The characterisation was executed flawlessly. A stand out was Blome, who shifted seamlessly between supporting male characters throughout the performance, from the dawdling bumpkin gardener who takes Sister Mary's V card and inevitably breaks her heart, to Tom's smothering partner who is always stuck on the outskirts of his life. Blome also did stellar job as the Host.
Needham was another person to fully embody her character. While looking at her I could physically see someone of a similar age to my own, I truly did believe she was a 40-something year old mother scraping her way through life, one glass of Chardonnay at a time.
A tumultuous sequence of 'games' – spliced with a series of flashbacks as to how each person came to be in that waiting room – came to a head with a gun in Tom's hand, forced to make an impossible decision; four of them walked into the game show, but only three could leave. But who would he pick?
Credit is also due to the other actors' performances. Stafford's original happy-go-lucky "quirky girl" act soon revealed a darker side – a transition that Stafford made with ease. Morgan's portrayal of Sister Mary was spot on (she's not a regular Nun, she's a cool Nun!) and Murphy's character, Tom, was perhaps the most genuine of them all. I know if I was in Tom's position, I'd be spouting a similar sentiment: what the fuck are we doing here and when can we leave?!
Adamson's commentary around the "intricate invasions and sinister ridiculousness of reproductive health care" is wrapped in a humorous blanket – neatly folded together by the talented Beck and Osborn. In all, it was a play that had me belting out some loud and hearty laughs. An excellent way to spend an evening.
Georgie Adamson recently completed her MFA (Writing for Performance) at NIDA. Eve Beck is a Sydney based actor and director, and graduate of The Atlantic Acting School New York (2017). Madelaine Osborn is an emerging theatre maker based in Sydney’s Inner West. All three are founders of Bite Productions.
Set deign by Camille Ostrowski, lighting by Martin Kinnane and sound by Alexander Lee-Rekers.
Image credit: Jasmin Simmons