Review – Eggsistentialism

Joanne Ryan: Eggsistentialism

****

Summerhall

Until August 27th (1pm)

‘When your heads in the sand, the world is your hat’.

Joanne Ryan is in her mid-thirties and undecided on whether she wants to have children. She’s not certain enough to have them, but worried that at some point in the future the opportunity may have gone, and she might change her mind. Over the course of the show Ryan tracks her fears, her concerns and her desires, all against the backdrop of women’s reproductive rights in Ireland. She tracks the evolution of expected roles within a family, pointing out some dated advice that ‘fathers can be involved in childcare occasionally’, and the gendered imbalance which exists in domestic tasks for many people in modern society.

The show is warm, it’s funny and at times incredibly touching. By the end there was barely a dry eye in the house. Ryan has a real gift for engaging an audience. Her well crafted storytelling style was perfectly complemented by graphics and sound. The use of the screen to create setting was simple and effective. She uses ‘answerphone’ recordings from her mother to great effect, bringing comedy and the realities of family life onto the stage.

Ryans onstage persona is immensely likeable. There are laugh out loud moments including an excellent section where she asks google if she would make a good parent, and sage advice including ‘you can’t be existential when you’re drinking lilt.’ For me the pros and cons section was less engaging than the rest of the show, but perhaps the fact it felt like nothing new to me, is really a testament to the universal reach of many of the issues being addressed.

As well as being an engaging performance, there is a serious side to the show. Ryan epitomises a generation of women who have been told they can do it all, and now need to work out whether they can really make it all fit together – and crucially if they even want to. Overall it’s a great entertaining performance, from an engaging, and very witty performer.

Eggsistentialism is at Summerhall until August 27th.  For further details and to book tickets click here.

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