Review: A Womb of One's Own, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Fringe

If A Womb of One’s Own underwent a paternity test, the results would be conclusive: it is most definitely a distant relative of the Fleabag family. Raised by her devout Catholic Grandmamie and Great Aunt Mildred, Babygirl’s Irish roots make for a comedic tour de force. Fuelled by sexual frustration, she is on the road to “independent womanhood” – a snap decision to attend university becoming less about book-smarts and more a hunt for the birds and the bees. 

Played by four actors, Babygirl is something  of a hive mind. Matching floral nighties are quickly exchanged for high heels and short shorts, though emerging from her cocoon doesn’t quite make her the social butterfly that she’d hoped. Determined to lose her virginity, an endearing awkwardness manages to flip Babygirl’s sexual status from dormant to active. Freshers Week even sees the blooming of her bisexuality, until her new, more pleasurable environment is stopped in its tracks. She discovers that she is pregnant, but she doesn’t want to keep the baby.

Written by Claire Rammelkamp (who also performs in the production), A Womb of One’s Own is semi-autobiographical. Similar to its aforementioned cousin, Wonderbox don’t shy away from frank sexual encounters, and work to celebrate the female orgasm. The play is refreshing in this sense, particularly in its exploration of abortion from a queer perspective. Especially on (but not limited to) the Edinburgh stage, gay narratives are usually dominated by the male experience. But, this company make room for a lesbian standpoint – a necessary and exhilarating step. 

The narrative is important too, given the recent rows over reproductive rights in the US, as well as in Northern Ireland, where abortion is only legal in limited circumstances. It also seeks to tackle socio-political movements such as Pro-choice and Pro-life, though it does so through a comedic lens. Rammelkamp does well to shatter taboo, translating her personal experiences into a performative setting, tackling the hushed silence and sense of shame surrounding the topic.

Ultimately, A Womb of One’s Own is a modest production, proving that a problem shared is truly a problem halved.

A Womb of One’s Own is playing the Pleasance Dome until 26 August, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.