Vault Festival 2018: Mission Abort
Mission Abort begins with actress and writer Therese Ramstedt lying on a massage table, head hanging upside down with her legs in the air. This is not a massage table, but an operating table, with body position representing an abortion. For the next hour, “abortion” is not a taboo word and spark for heated debate, but an open, frank and sometimes heartbreaking examination within Ramstedt’s one-woman play.
Having performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and various other festivals including the current Vault Festival, Ramstedt is on a mission to challenge the hushed nature of conversation. Her character’s a life model and artist who one day discovers she is pregnant, but her boyfriend is unsupportive and she herself is not ready to become a mother. Thus, the appointment is booked – she goes to the clinic, chats in the waiting room, has the procedure; it’s more matter-of-fact and less about over-the-top. The play pivots from lighthearted possible conception scenarios, to the pained aftermath of moving on, and, of course, what happens on that table. One moment she’s dancing to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, the next it’s an abrupt yelp of unmistakable pain. Smartly pieced together with some witty writing, this is essentially a story built on insights (such as not being able to share the news with friends because you don’t know what their stance is), statistics and ultimately what feels like personal experience.
The set is understandably simple, making the most of three chairs, a blanket, with the use of audio recordings to add texture and represent the other characters – although the actor’s knack for impersonations means she doesn’t always need the help. There’s even the sound of Trump, plus various opportunities for audience participation. The one-woman play format is a perfect outlet; nothing is held back and Therese Ramstedt comes across as a bold, mature and honest performer. She’s also a fantastic singer, channelling most emotion through song, not limited to the most piercing rendition of Jason Derulo’s Whatcha Say, which gives new perspective to the lyrics “Whatcha say, that it’s all for the best? Of course it is”.
Mission Abort opts away from tension to focus on “real life” but it means we have to fully focus our attention throughout. Use of music as an aid is strong but lingers towards overuse. However, the play definitely opens up the conversation, which is surely its artistic objective. Of course, this remains a delicate and controversial subject, impossible to cover within an hour. Whilst the writing doesn’t impose its stance, it’s heavily one-sided and that stems from the personal decision, reflecting: “this is my body, my home”.
Photo: Steve Ullathorne
Mission Abort was at Vault Festival 2018 on 7th and 8th February 2018.
For further information about Vault Festival 2018 visit the festival website here.