Review | Laura Money
In a world where even conception is controlled by the state, three people come together in an unexpected rebellion. Written and performed by Lainey O’Sullivan, Conception is a deep dive into autonomy, relationships, control, and the separation of sex and intimacy, with climate change subtly underpinning the whole piece. Opening with a stunning sequence where O’Sullivan and Shaun Johnston simulate a shower that gets very hot and steamy, the two then discuss baby names as they then go about their day. There are a few hints that all is not what it seems, from the water being shut off because it’s rationed to the fact that Anna drinks wine while seemingly pregnant. All becomes clear when Ruth (Asha Cornelia Cluer) arrives – she is the surrogate (well things are slightly more complicated than that) and appears to have suffered a miscarriage. What follows is a gritty descent into pushing moralistic boundaries, sexual autonomy, and relationships.
Dynamically directed by Samuel Bruce, movement and stage directions breathe life into the script – breaking up the tension of heavy dialogue with witty and clever sequences. The intensity of movement creates physical divides, as each character literally stands with who they back up. Anna sharply moves between Ruth and Chris, convincing them to pair up and conceive naturally. The act of intercourse cleverly mirrors the beginning when Anna and Chris were intimate, and as O’Sullivan puts on a stoic visage while preparing vegetables for a quiche, Cluer and Johnston initially awkward in their movements stick to the door frame. Vegetables are grated and eggs beaten as the intensity increases – Cluer and Johnston no longer confined to the shadows of a threshold but taking up the main space passion clearly increasing. Although initially her idea, O’Sullivan as Anna appears stricken when probing into Ruth’s experience with her husband. Feelings become heightened and the show twists and turns, churning up every emotional response.
Conception is a clever piece of theatre that puts characters in incredibly intense situations. It questions how far we would go to get what we want and even whether sexual intimacy and sexual intercourse can be separated. There are no real answers, the play is an examination of these dynamics with great imagery and just the right amount of dramatic tension. All three performers are utterly believable, creating a few moments where you might forget to breathe.
You can catch all the action at the The Blue Room Theatre until 11th February 2023. TICKETS
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The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.