Period, by Amy Atkins, Directed by Iris Henderson, For Ephemeral Theatre, Globe Theatre, Palmerston North, July 5-6. Reviewed by Richard Mays.
Pad up and face reality – no, nothing to do with World Cup Cricket. That only happens every four years.
This is about a deal that directly and indirectly affects most of the adult population every four weeks ad infinitum, period.
Home-grown Amy Atkins returned her “merry menstrual” clowning-influenced show to the city after winning outstanding female performer for period at last year’s inaugural Palmy Fringe.
Atkins also claimed best original solo script and production at the Regional Theatre Awards in February and earned a nomination for best emerging theatre company at this year’s NZ Fringe.
Dressed in a simple white shift, she introduces us to Karla, aged 11 or 12. It’s Karla’s birthday and in the centre of an otherwise empty stage there is, somewhat symbolically, a big red gift-wrapped box.
Excited and curious, she can’t wait for her “voice-over” mother to give permission to open it.
When the wrap is off, a somewhat perplexed Karla finds it contains the oddest things.
Is this some kind of dress-up box? Are these toys? Is that a Chupa Chup? What can all these seemingly random bits and pieces – oh, and chocolate – mean?
It’s evident Karla’s mum has made a few assumptions about her daughter’s state of awareness, offering no real explanation for the pads, tampons, cups and applicators inside the box.
What follows are a series of whimsical and humorous trial-and-error experiments as Karla gradually becomes acquainted with her “little friend”, its implications and the accessories for dealing with it.
Based on a premise that many young girls have little idea about the biological cycle about to impact on their lives, period provides a light-hearted instruction manual, complete with menstrual cup folding demonstrations.
These cups were handed out at the door and let’s just say for a ham-fisted male origami is way less complicated.
Totally believable as her young naive protagonist, Atkins’ 45-minute long, mainly mute performance is a delight.
She makes superb use of physicality and facial expressiveness to convey convincing child-like character.
Incorporating puppets made from pads and tampons, other symbolic and explicit props, and pre-recorded voice-overs, period is a unique, inclusive, non-threatening and fun demystification of what is, after all, basic human biology.
This review was originally published on the 7th July 2019 by Stuff.