Pleasance Theatre, Islington, London

05/11/2013 - 24/11/2013

Production Details

“We’re against the odds, you know. It’s actually really hard to be born.” 

Where things go wild, lives are lost or won, and we never know who is really in control.

Expectations is a game show like no other, pitting the chaos of what dreams may come, against the realities of life. And everyone is playing for the Big Prize.

A new play about miscarriage and infertility, Expectations is a funny, physical, energetic and touching piece about life, fate, hope – and choice.

Emma Deakin, an actress, producer and writer, is the founder and Artistic Producer of Shaky Isles Theatre. She has produced all of the company’s work and performed in most of it. Expectations is her first play. She also works as a storyteller and drama workshop facilitator with children and is a Creative Associate with MakeBelieve Arts.

Stella Duffy is Shaky Isles’ Artistic Director. She has directed many plays, both text-based and devised. She is heading Fun Palaces 2014 a nationwide celebration of arts, sciences and public engagement to commemorate Joan Littlewood’s centenary in October 2014. She is also an award-winning writer with thirteen published novels, over fifty short stories and ten plays.

Sohia Lovell Smith is Expectations theatre designer. Credits include; Flathampton (Royal & Derngate Theatres, Northampton) which won the Brighton Festival Children’s Award this year. Sophia is at present designing Duck! for ZArts, and Wave for Nottingham Playhouse.

Other companies include Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, (The Caretaker & 6 other shows), Graeae’s The Flower Girls (Hampstead Theatre), Marat/Sade (Pleasance Theatre), Handa’s Surprise (Little Angel Theatre), Blackberry Trout Face (20 Stories High).

Pleasance Islington, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF
Tues-Sat 7:45pm & Sun 6:00pm 
Previews: Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th November 
Press Night: Thursday 7th November 
Post-show discussion: 12th November  
Signed performance: 13th November 
Tickets £12.00 (£10.00 concessions) Previews all tickets £10.00 
Box office 0844 482 9674 / www.pleasance.co.uk

Kane Bixley as Richard
Emma Deakin as Amanda
David Eaton as Paul
John Fitzpatrick as Troy
Natalie Ann Jamieson as Scarlett
Mary Price-O’Connor as Wanda
Amie Taylor as Carrie 

Design by Sophia Lovell Smith
Lighting Design by Dominic Warwick
Sound Design by Martyn Duffy and Mark Trezona

Theatre ,

Expectations: brave triumph of NZ playwright’s debut play

Review by Charlotte Everett 09th Nov 2013

Expectations is a brave, beautiful and artistically daring production that breathes life into discussion around miscarriage. 

Being a “rainbow baby” myself (having been conceived once my parents had seemingly given up after a series of miscarriages), I have to admit I was apprehensive about seeing this production. My mother hadn’t spoken about her miscarriages – and seeing the pain it clearly brought to her eyes, I dared not ask. 

For New Zealander Emma Deakin of London-based theatre company Shaky Isles, her own experience in this area prompted her to write her first play – Expectations. Given that 1 in every 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, it’s astonishing that there are not more plays, films, books and poetry dealing with this painful and devastating “fact of life” for so many people.

Deakin has courageously responded to this lack of support around miscarriage, and Expectations boldly brings the discussion out in the open.

Although the play is intense – enhanced by the use of intimate studio space, and a striking set dressed in red, black and white – it is far from depressing. Moments of heartache are balanced with a high dose of humour. The play is set within a game show – “Let’s play Expectations! Where you can play to win the BIG PRIZE!” – the relevant irony being of course that it’s possible for both teams to win the “big prize”, as well as for neither team to win the big prize. 

The “games” take us on the journey of two couples: Richard and Amanda (outstanding performances from Kane Bixley and Deakin herself), and Paul and Scarlett (equally well-played by David Eaton and Natalie Ann Jamieson). Richard and Amanda are a typical, seemingly happy and well-rounded married couple who yearn for a family, but are blighted by disappointment from previously miscarrying, as well as the fear of miscarrying again – not to mention additional pressure from those around them. Paul and Scarlett on the other hand tell the story of a young woman carrying through with an unplanned pregnancy where the father is out of the picture – Paul, her housemate, providing her with much-needed love and support, from an entirely unromantic motivation. The contrast between the different lives of these two couples – teams on the game show – highlights the universality of the suffering miscarriage can bring, and the impact miscarriage can have not only on the mother carrying the child, but also on those close to her who have been supporting her through the pregnancy.

The play deals with the expectations not only of the couples who are expecting, but also with the additional pressure of others expectations: soon-to-be grandparents, friends and colleagues, nursing staff and midwives – and even fate itself, portrayed through the presence of children of the ancient gods as the game show hosts. Deakin’s words – “We’re against the odds, you know. It’s actually really hard to be born” – summarise the harsh reality that miscarriage in many respects is down to chance. The play seeks to offer hope to anyone affected by miscarriage; to inspire courage through loss and to demonstrate that life not only goes on after miscarriage, but that it can be – and is – a truly perfect and wondrous thing.

Expectations is a polished work infused with energy. This can be attributed to the talented and committed cast of seven, and the dedicated direction of Stella Duffy – who has been working closely with Deakin and Shaky Isles for a number of years – and the depth of their creative relationship shows. The resulting production – which will no doubt continue to evolve as the season continues – is the reflection of a hard-working and united cast, as well as a director who has clearly nurtured and cared for the work as a whole in a way that shines brightly throughout. 

This is a brave, collaborative work that seeks to illuminate the darkness in many lives, and succeeds in doing so. In addition to raising awareness about the heartache of miscarriage, it is a truly stunning production, not to be missed.


Editor November 15th, 2013

The makers blog about post-show discussions:


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