Review: Apricot, Theatre503

Apricot, Theatre503

“That’s an ironic use for a Bag for Life…”

As the Supreme Court weighs in on Roe vs Wade and Liz Truss tries to push through transphobic Private Member’s Bills, it’s impossible to ignore how ideology shapes so much of the debate about such hot button topics. Little space is given, or it might be more accurate to say ceded, to voices of lived experience who could speak more to the truth of the matter of how things might actually be playing out on the ground, rooting those discussions in some kind of reality.

I’d argue that Gigi Rice’s Apricot attempts a little of that corrective action, offering up a bracingly fresh perspective from a modern-day London teenage point of view. Gina and Angel are besties: Gina is a bit dreamy and naive and loves Muller corners; Angel is a touch more worldly-wise and has progressed onto loving sex, although not so much contraception. We meet them in Gina’s front room after Angel’s abortion pills have just worked upstairs in the shower, a covered bowl with the evidence before them.

There’s a brilliant frankness to Rice’s script as she has her characters talk about this in such a matter-of-fact manner. As a cis white gay man, this really isn’t familiar ground but as a regular consumer of culture, it is undeniable how untrodden this type of subject matter is. There’s an almost playfulness to the ways in which the practicalities are discussed – Angel nabbing a pair of fresh pants to get through the rest of the day, the logistics around bin collection days and see-through bags, how big something can be and still be flushed…..

The next scene shifts us along a few months and a similar scenario plays out, and then again and again, as it turns out that Angel is using abortion as birth control. The ground of Rice’s play thus shifts to a different kind of ethical question but as the tone remains darkly comic, the lightness of touch emphasised by Lucy Nicholson’s direction means it never feels didactic. Angel is consistently pragmatic whereas Gina, who comes from a very religious household, wants names, funeral services, more of a fuss to be made.

The dynamic between the pair is believably drawn, both in the detail of the writing and in the interconnected vibe between Nicholson’s Gina and Jaz Tizzard’s Angel that captures their casual chat so well. Things inevitably get more complicated over – what else – a boy but Rice uses this opportunity to briefly add in another contrasting layer to the debate as Finlay Vane Last’s Caleb gets to talk about what being a parent might mean to him. No right or wrong answers being platformed, just a presentation of different perspective and the invitation to do some serious thinking of your own, free from the taint of dangerous ideologues.

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