Nelson Mail (Stuff.co.nz): The brilliant art of making babies. Theatre Royal, October 15. Reviewed by Matt Bowler.
A circus-style show set in a fertility clinic – sounds hilarious, and it is.
A madcap high-energy, very skilful and totally joyous night of theatre. Think a burlesque gymnastic version of Shortland Street, with a big-hearted sense of humour and fun.
I suppose the big concern, the big danger would be to lapse into cliche, to go for the cheap laugh, but this show is far too inventive, far too wildly clever for that…
(Full review now gone from Stuff unfortunately)
Town Hall Concert Chamber, August 2009:
The creation of new life provides a fitting inspiration for a piece of theatre that is breathtakingly spectacular, raucously funny and delicately intimate.
A fertile imagination and a lengthy gestation period have allowed Co. Theatre Physical to move beyond the formulaic gestures of physical theatre and deliver a show in which a spirit of playful exuberance conceals the meticulous and exacting choreography that has the actors flinging themselves in all sorts of wildly improbable assemblages.
Set within a high-tech fertility clinic, the drama alternates between a slapstick send-up of medical soap operas and a succession of powerful images that delve into the metaphysics of conception, fertility and birth.
The abrupt changes in tone frequently jolt the audience into those thought-provoking moments when laughter is intermingled with more reflective emotions.
A talented design team has reconfigured the awkward performance space of the Concert Chamber to create an intimate traverse staging that reveals the complex apparatus behind the show’s pyrotechnics.
The highly trained cast show the kind of athleticism expected from circus performers, with Eve Gordon twisting and contorting herself around silk ropes in a daring and dangerous display of aerial acrobatics.
Mike Edward brings an impressive muscularity to his role as the support structure for the free floating women and also manages to deliver a nicely ironic take on the virile machismo of the leading man.
Debbie Newby throws herself into the gymnastic tumbling while giving a hilarious performance as the over-achieving head of the fertility clinic who drives herself to the edge of psychosis as she tries to fit the delivery of her own baby into a micro-managed schedule of professional commitments.
The show’s more tender moments are in Beth Kayes’ performance as a middle-aged woman pitted against her biological clock in a desperate battle to conceive. She hauntingly captures the pathos of infertility as she inflates a succession of balloons which fly briefly before collapsing.
Co. Theatre Physical have clearly established themselves as a company to watch. In Ooh Baby Baby they have wrested physical theatre away from its associations with avant-garde obscurantism and triumphantly asserted their links to the vital traditions of the circus.
– NZ Herald, 24 August 2009, by Paul Simei-Barton