- Gareth K Vile
- 23 August 2017
Autobiographical theatre with little theatricality
Mission Abort serves as an effective and idiosyncratic introduction to a discussion around the experience of abortion. Without a moralising message – and a touch of triumphant empowerment in the use of Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' – Therese Ramstedt tells the story of her own abortion in simple, honest terms.
There is little angst in her story – only a clear decision, some mild regret and physical pain: it's a corrective against more melodramatic representations. Sadly, it is in this absence that Mission Abort falls short of becoming engaging theatre. A disappointingly unsupportive boyfriend – who comes across as weak rather than nasty – and mediocre advice from counsellors are no substitute for dramatic tension.
The danger of autobiographical theatre is that criticism of the structure – piecemeal and lurching towards a sentimental and forced ending – can be mistaken for a criticism of the content, which is the substance of the performer's life. Ramstedt comes across well on stage, with a beautiful singing voice, wit and energy. But she strains to make her story into a dramatically satisfying production.
Of course, it's preferable for Ramstedt to have avoided a tragedy, and the intention of the solo show to raise consciousness about abortion in such an even-tempered and sensible manner is admirable. However, the shifts in mood from cheerful acceptance to maudlin thoughtfulness don't build a drama out of a crisis.
Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, until 28 Aug, 5.45pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).