By John Bandler
Published July 20, 2015
Rose Hopkins wrote this brief monologue, her first venture into playwriting, and she also does an outstanding job with its delivery. She rapidly hooks and draws audience empathy with her portrayal of an archetypal, lonely 1950s housewife, but with a secret she can't share with her husband.
What's her secret? She's providing pregnant women thinking about or needing an abortion with advice and, more importantly, with abortion contacts in Mexico.
There are three key off-stage characters: an unseen husband, who seems largely neglectful of her; a person sitting with her in her kitchen and with whom she is sharing parts of her story; and a pregnant woman with whom she has a number of private and heated telephone conversations.
We are drawn in to her distress. Yet the more we hear from her lips, the more the ambiguity and mystery grow. And I find myself wondering who her husband is, and how he might react to discover what his wife is involved in. Indeed, how safe might she be in this clandestine activity that reeks of back alleys, cheap motels, and shady characters?
I wonder about her backstory: what marriage crises she's enduring, whether she has children of her own, whether she'd had an abortion, an out-of-wedlock child, and so on.
I wonder who this unseen person is in her kitchen, sharing her tea and listening to her. Is our heroine running this unlawful activity as a business, and might she be in the process of addressing an initiate or potential partner? How physically precarious is her position?
She berates and yells at the woman on the phone, who keeps calling her, upset at how expensive her abortion would be.
Anger, loss, blame, loneliness, and the timeless issue of whether to abort or not to abort, all these factors intersect this tightly-crafted piece. One of the lines that struck me-if I remember it correctly-was about women who would risk their lives to avoid a birth, and later risk their lives to give birth to, or to save their baby.
Costume, makeup, props and staging are thoroughly supportive of this intimate, yet ambiguous and mysterious piece. I left with many questions that seemed deliberately crafted by the writer so that you, as audience member, can reconcile them according to your own experiences.
Hopkins' delivery is rapid-fire, perhaps deliberately, reminiscent of old movies.
This is good. Do see this play.
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