e-baby presented by Aequitas Theatre
What is it?
e-baby by Jane Cafarella, produced by Aequitas Theatre, is a show about the ultimate gift: life. Cafarella originally wrote the piece in 2012 and it’s currently having its first full production in London.
What Is It About?
Catherine appears to have it all. She’s a lawyer with an equally successful husband, living in a stylish flat in London. But there’s something missing in her life: a baby. Because surrogacy is illegal in England, Catherine flies to America to interview potential surrogates. There, she meets the simple but charming Nellie.
From the beginning, the two make an interesting pair. Catherine in her designer clothes and upper-class accent immediately clashes with Nellie’s disheveled ensemble and Midwestern accent. But the two get along. Just a few days later, Catherine tells Nellie that she wants her to be her surrogate, and once Nellie agrees, the race to salvage Catherine’s “old eggs” begins.
During the next hour and fifty minutes or so, we see Catherine and Nellie navigate surrogacy and their ever-changing relationship. Sometimes they’re friends, sometimes enemies, and sometimes business partners. It’s a delicate and strange balance, that only gets more and more complicated.
How Did It Make Me Feel?
After the performance, I left feeling overwhelmed. e-baby packs in so many topics and issues, that it’s easy to get lost. The play has a really interesting premise, but it’s an example of what happens when you have too many good ideas. e-baby could easily be sliced into three really powerful plays. It’s extremely difficult to tackle issues like abortion, social media, and surrogacy laws and rights in a two-hour time slot.
I found the issue of surrogacy and abortion to be the most interesting part of the play, and I wish that it was explored more. About an hour in, we discover that one of the two remaining triplets inside of Nellie is killing their sibling inside the womb. Nellie is then forced to make a decision: abort the baby or potentially give birth to two dead babies. As a devout Catholic, Nellie is torn, but not for long. Her struggle only lasts for a few minutes before we’re onto the next issue. e-baby feels like a pinball machine play, bouncing from one issue to the next without really landing.
After the first act, the audience was told to clear the theatre for a set change. I was excited, thinking that when we returned, the stage would be transformed. But the only transformation we saw was a small Christmas tree onstage. This felt necessary and is something that should only be done if completely necessary.
e-baby is playing at The Jack Studio until the 30th November 2019.
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