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FERTILE.

solo performance · jasminelou productions, inc. · Ages 14+ · world premiere · one person show · 1hr · United States of America

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Review by MARNIE OLSON

July 12, 2019 certified reviewer

What I liked

Heather Dowling is a fantastic performer. She’s incredibly engaging and commits to each character fully. My favorite character is the old neighbor – absolutely hilarious.
This is challenging subject matter for me to invest in because I’ve never had even the slightest inkling toward motherhood. So while it’s completely out of my grasp of understanding why anyone would put themselves through so much for something I cannot understand wanting in the first place, I go to the theatre to be lifted out of my own experience. And while I relate in no way to the concept of desiring motherhood, Heather took me on a journey that reminded me that it’s not about WHAT you want and not getting it so much as it about learning to let go, and let your life unfold as it was meant to. Brava to brave women like Heather telling the hard stories!

What I didn't like

While I don’t believe you need to include every person’s experience in a show (after all, solo shows really don’t need to be longer than an hour), the subtitle “a conversation about the expectation of procreation” did slightly mislead me. I guess I hoped that at least one character would be a woman who really, truly, did not want to have children, in spite of the fact that this is something women are expected to do and are flawed if they don’t. The one character who “doesn’t want” children actually has a contingency plan in place in case she changes her mind or meets the right guy (ugh) and I think this is a dangerous message to send. It’s eternally exhausting convincing people that it’s not about finding the right guy, or the right timing, for some women, it’s just an absolute no, no negotiation, no wiggle room and no ambivalence. It’s hard enough to live that without anyone feeding into the myth that all women might secretly want to have a baby, someday. I have been denied employment over just such a dangerous myth.
I also struggled some with the overall privileged perspective. For many women, the idea of spending many thousands of dollars in order to maybe get pregnant is very foreign, and it made it less relatable to me.
But I say all this knowing that this is a difficult subject matter for me to invest in, and the fact that Heather Dowling could move me and draw me into her story in spite of that is a testament to her talent and brave commitment to sharing such scary things with us.

My overall impression

Heather Dowling is a stand-out performer who transitions seamlessly between characters.

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