Assembly Roxy – Downstairs
This year I’m turning forty-one, I’ve been with my partner for almost ten years and I’m entirely fed up with people asking when I will have children and why I don’t have any yet. How can the concept of personal choice be so hard to grasp? Apparently, hard enough to convince Larisa Faber to write and perform a show about it.
As the title suggests, she appears on stage completely naked. Straight-faced and unemotional, she invites us to look at her “lady’s body”. “Have you ever seen one before?” she asks. She doesn’t mind being naked. “This really doesn’t matter” she adds with sarcasm: “This body doesn’t belong to me, anyway”.
She then takes us back to when she was thirty, on the day of a routine cervical screening. The nurse’s questioning whether she is planning to have children and reminding her that she’s not getting any younger makes some of the audience (including myself) twitch. An awkward conversation with her partner ensues, as she feels the rising pressure of the biological clock. He isn’t interested.
Next year, next cervical screening, same prompt from the healthcare professionals and even more pressure from family and friends. This is translated visually with striking effects. Being motionless for most of the hour-long running time, Larisa’s bare skin is used as a projection surface. As she goes through the opinions on pregnancy and motherhood shared by her close ones, video mapping also varies to make her look as if wearing different clothes at each time. Brilliant!
Her direct experience of abortion is explored at length, whilst Eugénie Pastor – with whom she shares the stage – uses real gynaecological instruments to produce some original sound effects. In light of the current reproductive laws and considering how society normalises external control over a woman’s choices, it becomes clearer why earlier she stated that her body doesn’t belong to her.
A bit madcap and painfully honest, Stark Bollock Naked illustrates the strain put on a woman to reproduce and the hurdles one has to jump to have an abortion. In absence of physical movement, it takes an outstanding actor to hold the attention of the audience, and Faber’s compelling performance makes the hour fly.
Written and Directed by: Larisa Faber
Composed by: Catherine Kontz
Stark Bollock Naked played as part of EdFringe 2023.