Are you a woman approaching her mid-30s? Then you’d better hurry up and start making babies! Or so the news says. But what if you’re nearing 35, the age when your fertility supposedly goes over the edge of a cliff, and you aren’t sure if you even want kids at all?
Joanne Ryan knows how you feel. She’s been there. Hell, she’s still there. On the morning of Ryan’s 35th birthday, she wakes accompanied by a terrible hangover and an even worse case of existential dread. Her mother won’t stop phoning and she’s about to be sick. She might want a child, or she might not, but she’s not even dating anyone. She lives in Ireland, which has one of the worst women’s health records in the world, so seeking medical advice isn’t straightforward, either.
A funny, conversational performer, Ryan has natural wit, charisma and vulnerability. Her script’s narrative isn’t particularly solid, but her demeanour supports its regular sidetracks. She never strays for long, and everything smoothly ties into the piece’s throughline. Including Ireland’s timeline of reproductive health legislation provides a useful wider context—and a sobering one at that—to the culture of motherhood that Ryan and her mum grew up in.
She is accompanied by Neil O’Driscoll’s excellent projections and her mother regularly interrupts by voiceover to hilarious effect. While women of a similar demographic will see themselves in Ryan’s work, her engaging performance and inclusion of her boyfriend’s experiences with the prospect of parenthood make this a warm, inclusive and very funny show for a broad range of audiences.