Review: goo:ga, Camden People Theatre

A digital entry into Camden People Theatre’s feminist festival Calm Down, Dear, Hannah Ballou’s goo:ga is

“What is this show by the way?”

Autobiographical feminist comic live art is the answer that Hannah Ballou gives us early on, should you be interested. Though a show that lists “salty language, naked preggos, erstwhile animals, dodgy child acting, ironic pelvic movement, ukulele feminism, four minutes of literally nothing happening, and themes of fetal illness” in its warnings should instantly intrigue.

On top of this, goo:ga comes to the digital version of Camden People’s Theatre’s Calm Down, Dear festival with a really fascinating premise. As it investigates where pregnancy sits in contemporary society, it also deals with Bellou’s own pregnancy. Or pregnancies. As the show was first performed five years ago, she was 8 months pregnant with her first child. When this show was recorded last year, she is once again 8 months pregnant with her second.

Which initially sets up an interesting intellectual exercise about the challenges (particularly for live art) of returning to old work and whether they can be reperformed. But as we delve into the specifics of how things are going with baby number two, it is your gut that is wrenched as you follow Ballou on an extraordinary journey of heartbreak, fun facts, searing insight, unexpected laughs and a whole lot more besides, in a densely packed but deeply felt hour. 

The multidisciplinary nature of the show means that there’s surprises at every turn, none of which I want to reveal here in a cannon of blue or pink confetti. But I’d urge you to book. There’s some gorgeously unaffected work here, particularly from a young mind; there’s a beautiful segment about grief that comes from a different angle; there’s a stunning section that cleverly transforms this digital work into something interactively live, drawing you even further into Ballou’s world. Brilliantly challenging and uncompromising.

Running time: 1 hour
goo:ga is streaming online, on-demand via Camden People Theatre until 11th June. FREE for people on maternity leave, pay-what-you-can for everyone else

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