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Review: EARTHSIDE at The Blue Room Theatre

Childbirth is the final frontier in this thought-provoking piece by Kaitlin Tinker.

Review: EARTHSIDE at The Blue Room Theatre

In the film Alien, Ellen Ripley is a smart woman who no one listens to, which ends up costing most of the crew their lives. In EARTHSIDE, Kaitlin Tinker imagines herself as Ripley on her own strange and perilous journey into the unknown of childbirth.

Birth is, of course, something that seems like it should be well known by now. However, as Tinker reflects, the stories one hears about giving birth-even from those who have experienced it themselves- are as prone to understatement as they are to overstatement. This leaves someone navigating birth for the first time finding themselves thrust into a strange world, where they find that the best laid plans of mice and expectant mothers rarely come to pass. Tinker is a refreshing breath of honesty, laying out what she hoped to have happen and what ended up happening on her own journey to motherhood in detail. As she says during the show, the premise may seem uncomfortable and yet birth is a normal and natural process. The inexplicable disconnect between this and how birth is talked about amongst people is a target of Tinker throughout the show.

Review: EARTHSIDE at The Blue Room Theatre

Whilst the monologue does not deviate from topic, the show is a wonderful audio and visual treat. The Blue Room Theatre is transformed into a spaceship, and the setting (built by Eoin O'Briain) fits the part, with a spaceship chair fit for a warrant officer, complete with computer, lights, and microwave at the center. It also features a truly brilliant spacesuit, complete with a helmet that would be at home in any sci-fi production. Tinker herself created the costume, whilst Nicole Marrington designed a jacket truly befitting of the finale. Lighting design plays a big part too, with projections and lighting effects very much enhancing the experience. Chris Donnelly may be known for designing lighting for the Perth Festival, yet his work in this small theatre is just as superb. Sound and AV designer Jeremy Turner fuses the 80s nostalgia of the movie Alien with space theming and helps create the journey. All brought together under the direction of Libby Klysz, the show is entertaining and thought provoking.

It may be uncomfortable for some to find that births, in general, do not play out like on TV. Tinker mentions in the show that the typically understood idea of labour beginning with waters breaking is true for only 15% of births. Roughly one in three mothers describe their births as traumatic, and around 10% have post traumatic stress following birth. Whilst Kaitlin Tinker most definitely does not hold back in portraying birth for what it really is, she also brings a humour and warmth to the show that make it enjoyable and interesting. Any discomfort is effortlessly diffused by Tinker and one leaves feeling as if they've just chatted to a friend, even if that friend was hurtling through space.

EARTHSIDE is at the Blue Room Theatre until May 7th. Tickets and more information from The Blue Room Theatre

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