La Femme Ridicule’s In The Gut explores the difficulties that women face when addressing the subject of pregnancy. It uses grotesque and over-the-top characters to try and capture a woman’s struggle with the alleged “obligation” of getting pregnant. To their credit, the company work hard to raise awareness for The Miscarriage Association.
The basic premise is two women hosting a make-believe baking show that instead of talking about baking, talks about pregnancy. The two actors (Siobhan McKiernan and Margot Courtemanche) multi-role throughout, showing the negative effects pregnancy and childbirth can have on relationships, mind-set and, most graphically, the body.
The company bravely approach the subject matter, contrasting big Bouffon Theatre with hard-hitting truths about pregnancy. What the production lacks is clarity. As opposed to an intelligent insight into the world of pregnancy, this production merely offers a list of reasons against becoming pregnant and having children. It focuses too much on the horror and the pain of childbirth, and only scratches the surface of what it means emotionally.
There are a few poignant moments amidst the mayhem; for example, the two actors show depth when approaching the subject of miscarrying a child. The comedy could definitely benefit from some development, funny moments are awkwardly executed and re-visited too often. A few of the jokes were neatly crafted, whilst others were drawn out and, at times, exhausting.
The production makes effective use of the audience, making them part of the “baking show” and bringing them up on stage to perform various challenges. The actors confidently approach the audience participation, never making anyone feel safe from being picked on. The set design’s risqué nature is interesting, and it is used to good effect.
The two actors show promise. McKiernan has a fantastically expressive face and is clearly a highly versatile performer. Whilst Coutemanche shows some moments of enjoyably dry humour. Both of them embrace the clown within them well, and are physically engaged in all their characters.
Fundamentally, it felt as though the piece was disjointed. The creators seem to fall short of evoking a message. At times it felt slow and uninteresting which may well be down to the direction. I believe it would benefit from vast development, especially in terms of the comedic moments. The actors are clearly talented and passionate about the subject, but the intention of the piece needs to be clearer.