Hersterectomy Review – Edinburgh Festival Fringe ★★★★☆

5 mins read

Periods. Sex. Abortion. Taboo words in a world where reproductive health is largely stigmatised. We live in a climate where women are expected to keep quiet about menstruation and sexual well-being, while those without vaginas often loudly put in their two cents about female bodies.  

Hersterectomy, an original piece performed by The Counterminersis a feminist comedy that openly explores the inequality surrounding reproductive rights, and the archaic barriers preventing women from gaining true agency over their bodies.

Carmel is a lesbian suffering from painful PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome); she wants a hysterectomy. Despite her being dead set against having children, her doctor refuses her request. So, Carmel does what any hormonal woman would – she recruits a fake husband and kids to convince her doctor that her womb has had all the adventure it needs. 

The show is a whirlwind of hilarity. Its wackiness can be best summed up by the fact there is a singing uterus who looks a lot more like Gaga in her platinum bob era than a gummy pink pear.

Hersterectomy cast
Image Credit: Instagram @counterminers

Ruby Loftus is extremely convincing as Carmel. She has a flair for comic facial expressions and manages to create a relatable character we sympathise with and root for.  

Her fake daughter and son, played by Greta Abbey and Aaron de Verés, make for a lovable comic duo. Abbey in particular stands out as a rising talent, her over-eager aspiring actress routine leaving the audience in fits of laughter. 

The rest of the leads and ensemble were all equally strong, and their ability to rapidly change character and accents throughout was impressive. Hollie Avery was notably funny and well-received, never missing a comic beat, and it will be exciting to see her take on a bigger role in the future. 

The performance takes place in ‘The Fancy Room’ in the Just the Tonic Comedy Club at the Caves and, despite its grand-sounding name, the cellar-style space is very minimal. In true Fringe fashion the cast proves, however, that there is no need for elaborate set designs, props, or costumes. 

They create a believable rush-hour subway just through body language. An actor fully embodies the character of the contraceptive pill itself with a mere low-budget disk placed on his head. The haphazard fold-out table is enough to make us feel like we are right there at the chaotic dinner party featuring lasagna and dead dogs. 

Hersterectomy cast
Image Credit: Instagram @counterminers

There are some great hum-along tunes throughout and music is used successfully for comic effect. The Beatles’ “Come Together” has never sounded quite so dirty. The sound design can be a little overbearing in the odd scene though, drowning out certain lines and jokes. The switch between mic and no-mic is also quite challenging on the ears.  

The show’s eagerness to shout about female reproductive health is refreshing and applaudable, although the message did seem somewhat surface-level. At times it felt that an important and impactful point was just about to be made, but we never quite got there.

There is a wonderfully emotional moment from Georgia Gabrielides, playing the doctor, when she admits that she is truly struggling with being a new mother and feels completely alone. This could be an opportunity for a deeper conversation about the societal pressure to give birth, but the moment is so fleeting that it almost seems pointless. 

That being said, the show is still a jam-packed 60 minutes of fun and, while it might not be a perspective-changing performance, it is definitely one that will brighten your day.  

Hersterectomy runs until the 26th of August on alternating evenings.

Featured Image Credit: Instagram @counterminers

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