Review: The Motherhood Project

The likes of Hannah Khalil, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Sarah Niles and Juno Dawson deliver some excellent work in The Motherhood Project

“There’s so much talk of being perfect mums”

Ripping off the rose-tinted glasses and gagging any hint of yummy mummies with a used nappy, The Motherhood Project takes an uncompromising look at motherhood, shining a light on the things that the books don’t, or won’t, tell you. Suhayla El Bushra talks about the way it affects friendship, Jodi Gray and Katherine Kotz herself investigate the maternal instinct or lack thereof, Kalhan Barath speaks of her choice not to have children… Kotz, who is also the curator of the project, has gathered a mixture of monologues and musings, 15 short films in all, all seeking to redefine the modern myths around motherhood.  

There’s eight new monologues here, plus one repurposed one, making this a significant piece of new theatre writing. Jenni Maitland details the traumatising physical effects of childbirth in Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Inside Me, how it can fundamentally alters women’s relationship with their bodies, an issue already skewed by societal pressures of the feminine ‘ideal’. Hannah Khalil also delves deep into the hidden truths of becoming a parent through the medium of the (useless) advice she was given, the lyrical bent of Suited perfectly matched by Caroline Byrne’s expressionist direction and a quietly blistering performance from Emmanuella Cole Continue reading “Review: The Motherhood Project”

News: Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Athena Stevens, Anya Reiss, Juno Dawson and Lemn Sissay among the line-up for The Motherhood Project

Leading UK artists including Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Athena Stevens and Anya Reiss will join Juno Dawson, Lemn Sissay and Naomi Sheldon among others for The Motherhood Project. Fifteen short films will explore the guilt, joy, absurdity and taboo surrounding motherhood in this online festival of dramatic monologues and personal reflections. The films will be available on the Battersea Arts Centre website from Monday 19th April; all ticket sales will include a 50% donation to Refuge.

Curator Katherine Kotz invited writers, artists and technicians to join forces and donate their time to create exciting new pieces to support vulnerable adults and children affected by the pandemic. Interrogating the relationship between parent and child, autonomy and responsibility, dramatic pieces were contributed by Irenosen Okojie, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Hannah Khalil, Anya Reiss, Suhayla El Bushra in addition to Naomi Sheldon, E.V Crowe, Jodi Gray, and Katherine Kotz. Continue reading “News: Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Athena Stevens, Anya Reiss, Juno Dawson and Lemn Sissay among the line-up for The Motherhood Project”

Review: The Suicide, National Theatre

 “Everything was free”

A late jaunt to the National to The Suicide, Suhayla El-Bushra’s fiercely contemporary updating of Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 play, before it closed. Though I have to say I wasn’t entirely convinced by it, Nadia Fall’s production is visually hugely ambitious, retooled for the world of YouTubers and hipsters, but ultimately feeling as shallow as the societal trends that it is trying to satirise.

Javone Prince’s Sam Desai is long-term unemployed and newly bereft of benefits, so disillusioned with the world is he that he decides to top himself but when a film clip of him making that decision goes viral, he’s swept along for the ride as all of society try to co-opt him for their own ends. To publicise a café, to get a music deal, to highlight the lack of adequate mental health care. Continue reading “Review: The Suicide, National Theatre”

Review: The Iphigenia Quartet, Gate Theatre

“We all make – sacrifices”

And still the Greeks come. The Gate Theatre have taken Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis and asked four playwrights to react to it with short plays from varying viewpoints, giving us The Iphigenia Quartet. Split into two double bills, we thus get Caroline Bird’s Agamemnon and Lulu Raczka’s Clytemnestra, and Suhayla El-Bushra’s Iphigenia and Chris Thorpe’s Chorus, two strong pairings that crack open the Greek tragedy and offer a kaleidoscope of responses.

Such is the enduring resilience of the original that it can take diverse treatments – to wit, the trio of Oresteias that graced British stages last year – and packed into this studio intimacy and seen on the same day (as I saw them) or not, the impact is visceral and considerable. From the raw anguish of Bird’s duelling parents to Raczka’s academic debate spun on its head, from El-Bushra’s family of Marines to Thorpe’s babbling chorus of commenters, the shifting focus is at once enigmatic and entertaining.  Continue reading “Review: The Iphigenia Quartet, Gate Theatre”

Review: Pigeons, Royal Court

“Shit that went wrong right wrong (again)”

Spin number three on the Royal Court’s weekly rep wheel focuses on a new British writer Suhayla El-Bushra. Much of her previous work has been teen-focused, including Hollyoaks, and so it is little surprise that her play Pigeons centres on two childhood friends as they make the difficult transition into manhood in a world that dreams of multiculturalism. Through the haze of casual drug use, furtive blow-jobs under the counter, bunking off schools and listening to some bangin’ choons, Ashley and Amir find their lives inexorably pulled apart on different paths yet fatefully destined to clash together again. 

El-Bushra has fractured her timeline so that her play starts at the end and then moves back and forth in time to show the boys in the various stages of their relationship. A product of the care home system, Ashley loves playing the Sarf London wideboy with Ryan Sampson affecting some wonderfully vivid street speak, but he finds a kind of contentment in Amir’s family home. And along with Nav Sidhu’s Amir, they both enjoy the teenage rites of passage – Angela Terence’s Leah delivering their sexual awakenings – and the journey into something darker as the spectre of racial prejudice rears its ugly head.  Continue reading “Review: Pigeons, Royal Court”