When pianist and tutorial Anna Goldsworthy, director of Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music, grew to become pregnant along with her first little one, her preliminary pleasure was tempered by worries in regards to the daunting journey forward. She was bombarded by well-meaning, however typically unhelpful, recommendation and haunted by her personal expectations of perfection.
As a author with nice literary genes (her father is Peter Goldsworthy) she stored journals throughout that point and these grew to become the idea for her best-selling memoir. That first little one, Reuben, is now a youngster, so her emotions about being pregnant and motherhood have had time to mature.
Mitchell Butell, creative director of State Theatre Firm SA, is credited with persuading Goldsworthy to adapt her guide for the stage, which she did with dramaturgical help from Tim Overton. If the viewers response on the opening evening of this world premiere run is any indication, Butell made a very good resolution. The laughter was hearty and the applause beneficiant; there was even a standing ovation, not one thing that occurs on a regular basis in Adelaide!
The present opens on a shiny set adorned in kindy-colours. It’s a baby’s nursery or playroom and the putting design by Simon Greer, with outsized doorways and easy furnishings, works properly. The intelligent lighting design by Gavin Norris enhances the set completely.
The three actors are all on stage all through the play. Erin James is robust within the lead position – we all know it’s Anna, however I don’t suppose that’s ever truly stated. She ramps up the thrill and the nervousness of being pregnant and motherhood in equal measure. Matt Criminal, very well-known to Adelaide audiences, is sensible as Anna’s affected person however typically helpless husband. He additionally sometimes steps into different supporting characters to fill out the narrative.
Kathryn (Kitty) Adams multi-tasks because the useful – or typically deliberately irritating – associates, family members, and advisers; she even moonlights as Rupert the loyal household pooch. Full marks to Director Shannon Rush for maintaining a agency hand on proceedings and never letting it descend into the farce that’s all the time only a step or two away.
In the beginning of the play, Anna talks of ‘start because the reverse of demise’ and this foreshadows one other narrative arc – the previous age and, sure, eventual demise of her much-loved grandmother, Moggie, conveyed with heat by Adams.
In a manufacturing described as a “play with music”, there are just a few songs by musical director Alan John scattered all through Welcome to Your New Life. These intensify the Play College aesthetic, however don’t actually assist the storyline and really feel like a distraction greater than an integral a part of the script.
It’s all right here, on this huge and shiny play, all the concerns and anxieties and neuroses of motherhood, from Anna’s being pregnant sausage cravings after 16 years as a vegetarian, to her deadly fears in regards to the composting rest room that break their romantic post-baby getaway at a rustic retreat.
Step by step the fears and frustrations abate and three years on, the play ends with the announcement of Anna’s second being pregnant.
It’s tough to be vital of a play primarily based on a memoir – this can be a actual particular person’s lived expertise – however I nonetheless discovered the play problematic. Why ought to the varied approaches girls take in the direction of childbirth be portrayed as comedic and absurd? Clearly most individuals, mother and father or not, would discover the concept of getting an orgasm throughout labour to be hilarious. Even so, the countless jokes about start plans and different practices that at the moment are accepted as mainstream really feel like we’re belittling a lady’s reputable proper to make her personal birthing decisions.
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That is unquestionably an interesting play and it’s carried out with power and enthusiasm by the achieved ensemble. You possibly can take pleasure in each second, however nonetheless mirror on these tough questions: does it make gentle of the all-too-real trauma of postnatal despair? And is the viewers laughing along with her or at her as she offers with these anxieties and navigates life, love and relationships in her “new life”? One thing to ponder when the applause is over.
Welcome to your New Life by Anna GoldworthySpace Theatre, Adelaide Competition CentreDirector: Shannon RushComposer/Musical Director: Alan JohnLighting Director: Gavin NorrisProduction Designer: Simon GreerSound Designer: Andrew HowardCast: Erin James, Kathryn Adams, Matt Criminal
Welcome to Your New Life will likely be carried out till 25 November 2023.