Wednesday night there were events out the wazoo and I foolishly over committed myself. A opening of Seed vs Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress. I was umming and arring, could I do both? Then it occurred to me that I could pull in a helper, so I flicked a message out and my friend Sigourney Taylor (another lover of theatre) stepped in to help. Her review is pretty good, now I need to go see this play for myself (and have a burger on the way as well).
New theatre is always welcome in my life, and new theatre about issues close to my heart is particularly appreciated. Therefore, it was with anticipation that I set out to the opening night of “Seed” at the Basement, accompanied by my friend May-Lee, who is considering a career in fertility medicine.
In order to accurately judge this play, we needed to have sustenance; so naturally, we headed to Better Burger down in Britomart. There I had the best burger I have ever eaten in NZ, wolfed down a shake and fries (skin on), and finally meandered up Queens Street to the Basement.
“Seed”, written by Elizabeth Easther is the winner of this year’s Adam New Zealand Play Award, and it follows four women through their experiences with fertility. From a woman who is desperate to conceive via any means necessary, to a woman who can’t handle a pregnancy, “Seed” explores how women in contrasting situations in life deal with the issue of fertility and pregnancy differently.
May-Lee and I are both medical students, and May-Lee is considering a career in fertility medicine, having just finished an Obstetrics and Gynaecology placement. Therefore, we approached the play from a well-informed medical viewpoint. We thought that the medical information was sound, and the issues around interpersonal and emotional stress for couples undergoing fertility treatment were particularly well portrayed.
It may sound all rather dire and serious, but their fecundity (or lack thereof) kept the audience in giggles most of the way through the play, and the occasionally cringe worthy scenes had you suppressing a pained groan as you laughed!
The female actors Fiona Mogridge, Renee Sheridan, Janine Burchett, and Alex Ellis portrayed the characters with just the right balance of sincerity and dry wit, and the single male actor, Callum Stembridge, flicked between subsidiary characters seemingly effortlessly.
Easther’s characterization of her women was three-dimensional and conflicted. Although each woman was a slightly larger than life representation, they were all well fleshed out and endearingly, frustratingly human, with their own contradictions, flaws, and strengths. I always count it as a win when I leave a play unsure whether I actually liked each character.
In particular, I found myself making judgments on the characters, or condemning their judgments on others. It’s certainly the kind of writing that makes you exercise your empathy muscles!
One of the overarching motifs throughout the play was (surprise, surprise) the colour pink. All of the props were sprayed pink, the actors wore pink, and the lighting was pink and blue tinged. Their use of simple rolling boxes as set was ingenious and introduced a vein of physical comedy throughout the play.
May-Lee and I very much enjoyed this play. It was refreshing to see such common problems brought to a wider audience. We know that one in five couples have issues with fertility, and as the age of first pregnancy is getter later and later, this number will only rise. It was also an unpleasant reminder that at the ripe old age of 23, I have already used up the best eggs I have, and the remaining will be starting to shrivel…
I’m not sure if this play would resonate with everyone; it certainly is aimed at the privileged woman in her late thirties. However, I think anyone regardless of gender, who has had to face the reality of a pregnancy, would find this play an engaging, hilarious, and thought-provoking experience.
– Sigourney Taylor
Seed is on at the Basement Theatre in Auckland til the 28th of June. For more information and tickets click here.