Being a first time mum (or dad, for that matter) can be, and more often than not is, particularly stressful and challenging. While the imminent arrival is a most exciting time, there are the expectations, anticipation and fear of what will follow, let alone what happens in the brain and to the body of the expectant mother as her belly grows and grows. Then, when the bundle of joy arrives, it is hardly ever smooth sailing. No amount of preparation and pep talks can do justice to the life changes that will and do take place. Throw all the tumult and the frustrations, the heartache and the unadulterated pleasure into the mix and you get a feel for what is in store when you venture in to see From Here to Maternity, which is designed to tickle the funny bone.
Mik(haela) and Lana are besties, new to motherhood and what is in store. Revealing the deeply personal truths that are frequently not talked about, this 70-minute play without interval shatters the myths and stereotypes about what it means to be “a mummy”, from the build up to the childrens’ first birthdays.
It can be a hard, confusing and absurd time. Playwright Elise Hearst and co-creators and performers Mikhaela Ebony and Lana Meltzer – the latter long time friends – wanted to reach out to first time parents to let them know they are not alone.
From hemorrhoids to singing rap tunes to baby in womb, from being fretful of waking bub, lest precious darling cries again, and dog tiredness to comparing new experiences between a struggling mum and a “high achiever” – it and much, much more get a working over. The appropriateness of male circumcision, frustration with trying to collapse a pram that won’t do what it is told, what it takes just to get out of the house without forgetting anything and feeling and looking less than your best are addressed. A male child who likes pink, feeling guilty when leaving said bubs with sitters for the first time and determining when is the right time to go back to paid employment are also on the agenda.
Clearly a lot of work has gone into creating the scenes and vignettes, lasting from what appeared to be a matter of seconds to several minutes each. From Here to Maternity is thus jam packed with “stuff” from go to whoa, some of which works better than other material.
I wanted and expected more belly laughs than I received. I say that not just as a personal commentary, but from the reaction of the audience I saw it with. Let’s just say the laughter wasn’t plentiful. My brightest moments included the appearance of the two protagonists in costume – one dressed as a vagina and the other as a penis – when sex after a baby was either non-existent or difficult. Clever and funny material, skillfully handled.
Lana took to social media reasonably frequently to look for answers and a number of the replies were golden and certainly smile inducing. To sum up, From Here to Maternity, directed by Bronwen Coleman, is a box of licorice all sorts – occasionally flavorsome, notwithstanding the unbridled energy and enthusiasm of Ebony and Meltzer who work the room with gusto. If you are finding new motherhood or fatherhood is a tough road or if you have been through the experience and have come out the other end somewhat frayed around the edges, you should consider “taking the weight off” and heading to Chapel off Chapel. A limited season finishes on 30th October.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television