Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: e-baby

Danielle Carter Photo: Claire Hawley

Acclaimed director Nadia Tass turns her hand to Jane Cafarella’s dramedy about surrogacy in a production that confronts the deepest issues of adoption, infertility and, indeed, motherhood, as well as exploring kindness and control, grief and joy.

In this two-hander, Danielle Carter plays Catherine, a desperate 46-year-old corporate high flyer who has been trying to conceive for over decade.

The woman she selects to be her paid surrogate is Nellie (Gabrielle Scawthorn), a twenty-something mother from Massachusetts whose relaxed approach to the “job” riles the controlling Catherine.

Their opposing personalities provide both the drama and the comedy of the play as they rub up against each other on questions of abortion, God, family, fathers, diet, health, and even the songs that Catherine wants to sing as Nellie gives birth to Catherine’s baby.

Catherine suggests Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” but Nellie prefers The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated”.

Catherine’s mounting desperation is reflected in her facial expression and body language as she confronts the sometimes infuriatingly relaxed Nellie, who pits her own experience as a two-time mother against Catherine’s strict textbook approach.

They communicate by phone, email and Skype as Nellie’s successful pregnancy, with three developing foetuses in her womb, turns increasingly towards tragedy as first one foetus dies and then the second of identical twins is medically aborted, sending Nellie’s Catholic conscience into a spin.

All’s well that ends well, however, in a play that succeeds in presenting the issues in a very human context.

Until Nov 17. Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall St, Kirribilli. $32-73. Tickets & Info: http://ensemble.com.au

By Irina Dunn