Rachel Nicholson as Klara and Caitlin Jacobsen as Frances – photo from Coast to Coast Theatre Company
Coast to Coast Theatre Company are building a growing reputation as purveyors of fresh topical theatre that is well presented and often thought-provoking, dealing with current concerns.
Play Before Birth is written and directed by Rohan Gotobed and disects the emotional confusion facing a young woman who has discovered that she is pregnant at 21. While it reflects accurately many of the issues and concerns facing women who fall pregnant at a relatively young age it adds another dimension that reflects the growing despair that many people feel about our apparent intention to destroy the planet that gives us life.
We live in a world where some dinosaurs still roam. Their names may no longer end in -saurus but they are just as ill-equipped to cope with the changes facing us all and just as dim, but rather more malevolent with names like Trump, Farage and Johnson. The apparent ease that they have in trashing the futures of younger people – and all of us really – is leading many to question whether the accepted norm of relentless procreation is wise.
This is the context to Rohan’s well written play. We meet four young women with relationships sometimes explicit and sometimes implied as one of them, Klara (Rachel Nicholson) confides with her sister and friends that she is pregnant. Much of the drama is at the baby shower party she holds to welcome the incipient sprog with a few close friends. Her sister Sophie (Alex Gallacher) is supportive, her friend Frances (Caitlin Jacobsen) already has a young son so has relevant experience and empathy, but her friend Moira (Ellie Martland) has opted for sterilisation believing that the world needs no more children. When Moira arrives at the party things start to get a bit weird…
This is a brand new work and this was the first performance so there was a little evident nervousness at first. With effectively no set or props at all there is some stylised movement around the small performance space in The Garage to give context which is interesting but not always obvious in purpose. I think the cast might find it easier to have a few reference points about them although the minimalism does concentrate attention on the three items that are on stage with the actors.
Each of the four cast members give a competent and confident characterisation which draws us into a complex and intriguing back story that we only see glimpses of. The simple presentation has echoes of dramatic styles going back as far as the Greek Tragedies but is a thoughtful and bold way to put across concepts that will seem immediate and relevant to everyone at some point in their lives but are particularly important to people now in their twenties trying to make sense of the world they find themselves in.
This play is heading for Edinburgh to the Festival Fringe (Mint Studio, Greenside Infirmary from 12th August) where I hope it will command the attention it deserves as an innovative and thought-provoking work focusing on issues that are at the top of many agendas right now. There are some funny moments, considerable pathos and a few moments of real tension as the four women each go through events that will leave them changed forever in their perception of themselves and how they fit into a complex and worrying world. This is another impressive work from Coast to Coast Theatre Company which should fill venues wherever it is performed.
© Julian Swainson 2019