The Ensemble Theatre’s second last show for 2016 is set to leave audiences excited about what next year may hold after an interesting and fabulously performed production of ‘E-Baby’ by Jane Cafarella. The show follows two women – one, a mother of two who is eager to share the joy of motherhood with others, and another, whom after eighteen rounds of IVF and eleven years of failed attempts has turned to surrogacy as a final attempt at having her own child. As they each struggle with their place in this new relationship, with their husbands and with the changes – or lack thereof – in their bodies, the pair each must learn to appreciate the other for what she offers but also accept her for her weaknesses. What ensues is an interesting story of a relationship that is gradually becoming more common in the 21st century, and yet still remains largely under-represented – that between a woman and her surrogate.
Running at just 90 minutes, the show had a lot to say but Cafarella has truly succeeded in offering a concise, interesting, fast-paced piece that takes audiences on a rollercoaster of emotions in such a short period.
As a whole, the show was strong – the set was minimalist but appropriately so in order to offer the ability for quick transparency in locations both in regards to their movements between Boston, London and New York, but also in relation to their location in the cyber-sphere as well. The lighting design could have potentially been revised so as to incorporate less black outs and more moments for character transition between the scenes, however, this is no way detracted from the overall achievement of the show.
And if the word achievement is to be introduced, then the shows’ stars must be mentioned and congratulated for their wonderful performances in ‘E-Baby.’ Finding a play with a cast comprised solely of two women is very unusual – finding one that has been produced and is performing is even less of an occurrence. Hopefully, after seeing what Danielle Carter as Catherine and Gabrielle Scawthorn as Nellie, have achieved, more theatre companies will see the potential that a duologue holds and just how captivated an audience can be by the presence of just 2 women.
Before I speak on their performances, I have to take the opportunity to urge those interested in Women’s studies in particular to go and see this show – it raises such poignant questions pertaining to the struggles between biology and science and self-governance over one’s own body v. the rules governed by pay. What I loved about Cafarella’s story was that money was not the driving factor for enlisting as a surrogate but rather the burning desire to help someone fulfill a spiritual and moving part of the human condition and experience for a woman. This approach speaks volumes to the current climate in which the topics of surrogacy and IVF can be raised and presents a more humane interpretation of the surrogate than many other art forms have yet been daring enough to do.
On Scawthorn and Carter’s performances, all there really is to say is that both of these women displayed a level of skill and a mastery of their craft that it seems is too rarely seen on this stage. Scawthorn in particular who developed a very different persona and accent to herself showcased an extraordinary command of her craft and passion for the art of storytelling through her commitment to Nellie (her character). Both women are actors I hope to see grace the Sydney stages soon – I’ll definitely be seeing whatever they are in next based on the caliber of their work in this show.
This show is quite an unusual choice for the Ensemble Theatre and I question whether their traditional audience will appreciate the change or be put-off by the modernity of both the themes and the consistent use of technology. To me, this show is exactly what the Ensemble has needed to produce for some time now – a show that brings a more relevant story to a younger audience that is busting to be included by the Ensemble if only they would make their seasons more appealing to the next generation. ‘E-Baby’ is seemingly that void and the success of this show, I hope, will encourage a new set of faces in the audience at the Ensemble.
This show is definitely worth seeing! It hasn’t got the glitz and glam of many of the other shows currently gracing the Sydney stages, however, it offers so much more in its wonderful execution of a beautiful story and its masterful actors at the helm. Get tickets before this one sells out.
Show 62 – E-Baby, The Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. I have to admit, I didn't have great expectations for this show as I didn't know much about it but what a fantastic surprise! The 90 minute show was interesting and quick throughout, the staging was minimalist but appropriately so and the theme was topical and very modern compared to what the Ensemble usually shows. However, exceeding all of the shows other achievements were the two wonderful performances put forward by Gabrielle Scawthorn and Danielle Carter. It's not often we are treated to a 2-woman play and these ladies really have me questioning why not – id love to see more 2-handers performed and particularly by 2 superbly talented actors like these women. Scawthorn's accent was perfect and her characterisation skilled, Carter's emotions realistic – together they excelled. I hope that this play draws a new audience to the Ensemble because it really should be seen. If I had to be overly critical, I'd say there were too many black outs for my liking – and that's it – so not much really! Thanks for inviting me to your opening @ensembletheatre – really enjoyed this one!!! #ensemble #e-baby #surrogacy #ivf #play #theatre #sydney #australia #theatretravels #theatretravelsdownunder
E-Baby plays at the Ensemble Theatre until November 13th.