Despite a great deal of progress regarding women’s liberation, the topics of sexual freedom and reproductive rights still remain a taboo for many. A Womb of One’s Own is a show that seeks to make inroads into that discussion. Babygirl, who is just about to go to university, has been raised a Catholic by her Grandmamie and great-aunt Mildred. She is sure that if a boy doesn’t touch her boobs by the time she’s 21, she is going to explode from pent up sexual frustration – and, as expected, she can’t bring a boy home, nor can she ‘get it on herself,’ due to the prying nature of the elderly matriarchs.
At her university’s Freshers’ Week, Babygirl goes a bit wild. She drinks too much, parties too hard and picks up a man at a pub. A quick fling later it is all over, and she realises that she is actually gay. She begins a relationship with another young woman, Miranda. But sadly, all of this grinds to a halt as Babygirl realises she is pregnant from her initial sexual encounter. What follows is her experience going through the abortion process.
Wonderbox – an all-female theatre company – have won a grant that funds new writing and they seem to have used it well. Four girls play the protagonist in turn, as well as other minor characters – Miranda, the boy, Grandmamie etc. In particular, Claire Rammelkamp does a fantastic job. Her Irish and Scottish accents are excellent, and she maintains the delicate balance between the exuberance of youth and the vulnerability of a young woman. The show sheds light on how long the wait time for a procedure can be, the mental state of the person waiting, and the empathy of the staff. It also addresses religion, societal expectations, and family dynamics without overburdening the audience.
However, there is some nudity which adds nothing to the narrative. If anything, it distracts where it doesn’t seek to. The show can also lean into stereotypes – girl, grandmother and all. The script requires more depth in order for it to achieve a certain level of poignancy and ‘stickiness’ in the audience’s minds. But there is great potential here. For a new theatre group, this show is a fine achievement of their craft.