Fertile dark comedy
By Owen James
WIT Theatre’s latest offering depicts the emotional rollercoaster endured by two couples struggling to conceive a child. Through a darkly comic lens, a strong script from Vanessa Bates dissects the societal pressure and inner conflict surrounding this largely unspoken subject matter.
Madeleine Magee Carr as borderline obsessive Meg is a perfect blend of hilarious and chilling in pursuing her burgeoning child-bearing obsession. Carr’s portrait of a wannabe mother on the verge of desperation is often moving, rousing our sympathy when fighting circumstances beyond her control. But she is also the source of great comedy, anxiously seeking a remedy through herbs, fertility statues – any potential antidote charges a new level of fixation. Carr fuels her culminating moments of catharsis with pent-up frustration, expertly bringing Meg’s arc to a fiery finale.
Meg’s partner, Tim (Riley Nottingham) is withdrawn and agitated, unenthused by the failing fertility regimes. The reasons behind Nottingham’s characterisation become apparent as the plot is teased out, and his dismissive, callous attitude is the perfect chalk to Meg’s cheese. He is also a source of discomfort for Richard Mealey as Bill, a calm, supportive quasi-friend. Bill and his wife Jen (Lansy Feng) are more comfortable with their fertility struggle, and are beginning their journey with assisted reproductive technology, opting for IVF. Their stark contrast in attitude, patience, and beliefs help drive both comedy and drama between the two couples.
This well-matched cast thrive under Emma Drysdale’s direction, combining naturalistic and presentational styles to grab and hold our attention with each new scene. Drysdale utilises the traverse staging of the Bluestone Church Arts Space to great effect – and it’s enormous fun to watch the audience opposite you whipping their heads left and right as if it were a tennis match during scenes with rapid-fire dialogue. Riley Tapp’s simple, detailed, and highly effective set design is put to tremendous use, particularly in the ‘pregnancy ballet’, featuring sublime choreography by Sophie Loughran.
Every Second is a glimpse into the turbulent lives of couples coping with infertility, and the range of reactions and responses that can result. Loose threads are tugged and converge, prompting ingenious and unexpected twists which are executed with a chill by a sensational cast. Well worth a trip to Footscray.
Tickets and info: https://www.witinc.com.au/shows/every-second