In The Gut, RADA's John Gielgud Theatre - Review

Traditionally shows about childbirth haven't been commonplace in theatre, especially in the realms of comedy. All that's about to change with Les Femmes Ridicule'd show In The Gut. Adopting the format of a cooking show, replete with copious amounts of physical humour, Judith (Siobhan McKiernan) and Marie-Chantal (Margot Courtemanche) show that no aspect of pregnancy is too grotesque or taboo to bring up.

While the early part of the show is reminiscent of Woody Allen's Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask with its comic portrayal of sperm and ovum, the show oscililates between slapstick moments and VERY  candid descriptions of what happens within the uterus. It is the use of their 'fearless humour' that enables them to broach subjects such as benign tumours and miscarriages without hesitancy or apprehensiveness.

Some, I suspect, would not gravitate to the topics discussed in such a manner, but once I got used to this level of candour (through humour), I appreciated how EVERYTHING was up for grabs for discussion.

While the lack of dignity when giving birth is touched upon, the ambivalence feelings toward having a living being growing inside is also given time – just one of many 'honest' acknowledgements about emotions during pregnancy throughout the show. Other subtopics that have 'bite' included smug mothers giving advice and whether women have a 'moral duty' to procreate (seeing as not everyone is able to physically have children) as well as the unspoken, but traditional definition of a fully-fledged woman as someone who is fertile and has children. I found the sketch about two would-be fathers struggling to talk about a miscarriage particularly poignant and it is this ability to surprise and move the audience in unexpected ways most impressive.

Audience participation in the 'cooking' segments make up for a large part of the show, whether it's playing up to the visual pun of a' bun/cake in the oven', attempting to put a nappy on (a moving) 'baby', or rolling some dough so it has the same elasticity and behavour as... something organic.

In The Gut has no shortage of ideas, which are all vying for our attention. While there is an emphasis on physical humour, there's certainly scope for the show to evolve further and incorporate more of the 'emotional' sides of pregnancy into the proceedings. Without a doubt, one of the most original shows I've seen so far this year.

© Michael Davis 2016

In The Gut ran at RADA's John Gielgud Theatre on 25th June 2016.


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