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Print Version

NZ Fringe 2014
Co-written by Rosaleen Moxey and Ania Upstill and devised by the cast
Presented by The Clitlective

at 128 Abel Smith St, Wellington
From 20 Feb 2014 to 22 Feb 2014
[1hr approx]

Reviewed by John Smythe, 21 Feb 2014

On the hottest Wellington day this summer we are consigned to an upstairs room in an old wooden villa fully exposed to the sun (and well away from the fog). “This must be what menopause feels like,” quips our Fertility Coach (Eleanor Rowan). The ceiling above her is festooned with what look like Christmas stars except they are made from inflated condoms. 

It is the time between taking precautions and its being too late that this Theatre-in-Education style play is about. Having learned how Cervical Mucus may be monitored to indicate Peak Day in your fertility cycle, we are invited to share the experience of Chloe Walker (Rosaleen Moxey) over 3 years, from age 25 to 28.

Finding it difficult to talk with her friends and family about the difficulty she and her husband, Pete, are having trying to get pregnant, she resorts to a Vlog (Video Log) to find empathy in cyberspace. A lot is conveyed from her subjective perspective as we watch her talking to her laptop but we are not privy to any of the support she presumably gets back.

We also see her at work in a Women's Bookshop, dealing with pregnant customers and friends, on the phone to her mum, visiting Fertility Associates – and there is an agonisingly funny dream sequence where she is a contestant on Who Wants to Be A Fertillionaire, which morphs into Wheel of Fortune.   

All the other roles are played by Eleanor Rowan and Helen McIntosh and it seems clear that acting is not the primary vocation for any of these three. Hence there is a lot of over-acting to signal ‘this is comedy, folks!' while there are times where they settle more into their skins, to much better dramatic – and comic – effect.

Despite the intimate setting, soft volume, usually at the ends of sentences, does mean lines are lost at times. Loud traffic hitting the motorway entry right outside the wide open window is also a hindrance this opening evening.

As an exercise in using simple theatrical conventions to share a very real human experience, so that the wider community will have a greater understanding of what an IVF candidates goes through, Mis{s} Conception does, however, meet its objectives.

Without wishing to detract from the clear commitment of these performers in publicising a private problem, I do feel compelled to add that it's shows like this that can make us realise how easily we take excellent acting for granted.
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