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Published on Sunday, 05 September 2010

4 stars

Pleasance Dome (venue website)
Until 25 Aug (not 23, 24), 12:40pm (1:50pm)
Reviewed by Catherine Meek

With an authentic, thought-provoking and moving script, this play addresses a controversial subject – bearing a disabled child – with sensitivity.  Not only do the couples face the immediate shock of undelivered expectation; they are flung, unprepared, into a world filled with misunderstandings and the need to cope on the hop.

Two couples are expecting a baby.  Replicating a scenario which must be familiar to all pregnant couples and their friends and family, discussions about names and nurseries are left hanging: ‘As long as s/he’s healthy...’  It gives nothing away to reveal that those hopes are unfulfilled: both babies are born disabled – and the two families suffer the news, and impact on their lives, differently, demonstrating the fact of human limitations as well as giving voice and perspective to a population often pitied.   (How reassuring is it to be on the receiving end of ‘Well, she looks normal’...?)

As if they didn’t have enough to deal with, we see the drama which unfolds when both halves of each couple cope differently as well.  The unwitting strain they cause their relationships is far from the happy-families scenario which gestated for 9 months before the birth day.

Based on the author’s own experience (Kristina Branden Whitaker plays mother Klara), the play is frank and hits hard; the sensitivity of the presentation provokes sympathy, but not pity. Convincing performances from all four actors achieve just the right tone.  Whilst the audience was clearly gripped by the drama, it was not emotional in the hand-wringing sense, and so left room to take in the predicament as well as the performance – allowing us to consider the couples’ plight with them, as it unfolded from shock news to the story of their lives.

The production is cleverly set – notwithstanding the distance between both partners and couples (Klara and Mattias are in Sweden), they all remain on stage at the same time.  Swift switches of furniture and lighting achieve a seamless progression, essential to maintain audience attention through the often-fractious and always-moving scenes.  Overall, it's easy to recommend this very watchable and professional performance.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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