Merry menstrual clowning-influenced shows a reality of biology–Review by Richard Mays

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.

period. Review by Lizzie Murray

I wish I had seen this show when I was 11. I got my first period in a McDonald’s bathroom the night before my first day at my new school. I dreaded the next day. My pad felt like a big nappy and I thought everyone could tell I was wearing one. Amy Atkins and Ephemeral Theatre presents period., a charming one woman show that magically captures the struggles of dealing with your first period. It’s funny, interactive and educational. period.’s mission is to empower young girls and stop period shaming. And I loved it!

It’s Karla’s birthday and she a has a surprise present: her period. She also has a huge wrapped present that temptingly sits centre stage. The authoritative “Mum” voice over eventually allows the eager Klara to open her present. “The Hall of the Mountain King” plays as Klara gleefully tears the red wrapping paper and discovers a huge box full of feminine hygiene paraphernalia. Klara excitedly showers the black box theatre in tampons, pad, cups, and undies. She investigates her new toys with hilarious enthusiasm. Tampons are mistaken for lollipops and pads are used as futuristic armour. I loved seeing these items used in such an absurd but positive way. It felt like a big “fuck you” to the high schools boys that would hysterically throw unused tampons across the room as if they were bombs.

Atkins conveys curious Klara with a sweet naivety. She is super fun to watch and skillfully controls the audience interaction parts. Atkins is also an amazing puppet master. Incredibly constructed vulvas march across the stage. Other smaller puppets were intricately crafted out of feminine hygiene projects. I wish I could watch the show with its target/younger audience and hear their laughter at these outrageous puppets.

An ensemble of new voices overs share their personal period experiences while Atkins dances with the tampon puppets. They highlight how everyone feels uncomfortable with this change and inspired me to share my story here.

period. isn’t interested in the science behind menstruation, but rather educates the audience on how to deal with this big change. I learnt a new way to fold my menstrual cup which I can’t wait to try next month. This show would also be a great space to highlight that not every woman bleeds, that that is a completely normal thing too.

The show was incredibly successful in its mission to educate on and celebrate “that time of the month.” I did wonder if there would be more development of the off-stage brother character. Would Klara share her new secret with him and boast about her change?

Girls have been menstruwaiting too long for a show like this. I was very excited to hear that period. Is going to be toured around schools. If you are involved with a school that needs this kind of creative representation contact Ephemeral Theatre here

This review was published on Art Murmurs


Amy Atkins greets everyone at the door of the Random Stage at BATS and hands them a menstrual cup. We are asked to return these at the end of the show (damn!). Once we’re in our seats, the sweet childhood exploration of menstruation begins!

period. follows the story of Karla, a young (her age is never quite pinpointed) resourceful girl who gets a big red box with a golden present bow for her birthday. Inside are pads, reusable pads, tampons, tampons with applicators, and menstruation cups. It’s clear she doesn’t know what they are, making armour from the pads (women are powerful, yes!), and thinking an applicator is a lollipop, but she’s having fun figuring it out.

Rather than letting her mother bore her with scientific research, we are invited to join her on the journey. Sometimes quite literally. Atkins, as well has having open expressions, has a warm and kind demeanour which allows the audience to feel comfortable watching her trying to insert a tampon, helping her play a game on stage, and even joining her in learning how to fold the menstruation cup we were given at the top of the show.

While Karla is fun and sweet, the show is broken up with acted verbatim pieces of women’s experiences with menstruation, as well as how mothers teach their own children. While we listen to this, Atkins brings out various puppets: plush satin vulva puppets, tampon puppets on strings, and a small child-sized doll made of pads. These small pieces of performative art help the audience reflect on how we talk and think about menstruation.

Atkins is a giving and entertaining solo performer. Karla hardly speaks, so a lot of our understanding of the story comes through her face, making me instantly fall in love with her character and sympathise with her journey.

I am so pleased to hear period. is going into schools. It deserves it. It’s full of beautiful moments between the audience and Karla, very much present with her by being bathed in the same light, as well as some more reflective poignant scenes.

Everyone, of any age and gender, deserves to see this show – period.

This review was published on Theatreview.


‘period.’ has its second season at BATS Theatre the 19th-23rd of March as part of the New Zealand Fringe 2019. In preparation Amy, founder of Ephemeral Theatre and writer of ‘period.’, is trying out some of the products featured in the performance! Hannahpad sent us three pads for ‘period.’ and three pads for Amy to try*. Check out her experience!

Auckland Art Gallery was exhibiting “Collective Women: Feminist Art Archives from the 1970s to the 1990s”. I was bleeding in the Auckland Art Gallery’s bright black bathroom preparing to try Hannahpads for the first time. The second wave feminists would be proud—historians you can correct me if I am wrong.

I clipped a medium Hannahpad to my black high-waisted briefs and felt for the first time how seriously soft reusable organic cotton pads can be! I checked in the mirror whether or not the slight bulk was visible—it was not. When I was younger, I feared people would see the bulge of the single-use pads and mock me for wearing a nappy but I’ve realised clothing is a marvellous thing. There is nothing a snug pair of underwear, a pair of jeans, or a pair of baggy pants can’t conceal—if you want them too. The medium Hannahpad felt thicker than the ultra-thin pads I used to wear but they were not visible and to be honest, so extremely comfortable, for pads, that I couldn’t care less.

I wore the Medium organic cotton pad from 12:30noon – 8:00pm that night. I was staying at a family friends house but fortunately, the room had a wee en-suite. I found a large plastic laundry bowl and soaked my pads in there, in the en-suite, for the five days we were away from home.

I only used the large cloth pad for sleeping. It offered great coverage—front to back, perfect for restless sleepers. Now… I have the odd ability to overflow my menstrual cups during the night and always sleep on a folded towel and with a single use liner in (yes, yes, sorry I’ll go buy more cloth pad liners). And, when I used single-use night pads I frequently woke with leaks out the side of my underwear, through the towel, and onto the sheet forcing me to sigh and make that wet-feeling-period-walk to the bathroom.

I wasn’t going to risk it! Especially since I was staying at someone else’s house. I slept on a towel and hoped for the best. Well! I was blown away. No blotches on the towel. Not a single spec! Yes, there was some leakage from the absorbent liner through to the seams of the cloth pad but it hadn’t gone elsewhere. From 10:00pm to 7:30am the following morning the Hannahpad kept my sheets clean!

For Day two I was out of medium pads to trial—they take approx. 24 hours to dry in direct sunlight—so I used a menstrual cup with a small Hannahpad as back up. It came in handy… needless to say, the menstrual cup trial did not go well… the review for that will be coming out soon.

Over December 2018 and January 2019, I am thrilled to say I enjoyed trialling Hannahpads for the first time, actually, it was my first time trying any reusable cloth pad! The pads never ‘spun-around’ like I have heard people experience, they are still a brilliant beige, and despite the occasional wet sensation that comes from wearing pads of any sort I really liked managing my period with these organic cotton cloth pads.

Instructions for a Freshie:

  1. Wash your new Hannahpads on a hot machine wash, medium spin, with Hannahpad recommended soap—something organic and non-whitening.
  2. Dry them in direct sunlight until completely dry, approx. 16 hours on a mild day.
  3. Store your pads in a cloth bag or in a drawer until you need them.
  4. Enjoy the soft comfort of your Hannahpad while menstruating for 4-8 hours—or until the blood stops neatly soaking away dry.
  5. Either rinse and soak immediately if at home or fold up and store in a wet bag.
  6. Rinse as soon as possible in cold water. Let running water absorb through the whole pad, fold the ends together so the bloody side is facing down towards the sink and squeeze. Repeat until the water runs clear or a dark red/brown.
    NOTE: Refrain from scrubbing the organic cotton or rubbing the organic cotton against itself as this will cause pilling.
  7. Soap up with a Hannahpad recommended soap bar and then rinse (Step 6).
  8. Fill a large laundry bowl with cold water and lay the pad in the water print side up a.k.a facedown.
  9. Soak for 24 hours changing the water every 12 hours or when the water goes murky.
  10. Rinse in cold water and then machine wash on cold, medium spin, with a Hannahpad recommended laundry powder or soap shavings.
    NOTE: You could happily let the soaked and rinsed pads sit for a day until you have a stockpile of cloth pads ready to machine wash.
  11. Dry with the absorbent cloth side of the pad in direct sunlight for 24 hours for maximum sun-whitening potential!

Be patient! Your beautiful Hannahpads will keep their organic cotton white colour if you are patient.

*This is not a paid review.



Amy Atkins’
The Darkroom

Review date: 11/10/2018

I know Amy, the writer, director and performer of this play about menstruation.  We’ve been in a writer’s group together and she pops up all over the place in different creative roles.  Despite this, I felt like her show Period. was going to be bloody disgusting and very awkward.  The marketing material was enough to make even the most experienced bleeders look twice in shock.  Wow, I was exhausted that night and I hoped I wouldn’t have to sit there for too long because I was worried I might fall asleep.

I should have had more faith in Amy because she revealed an incredible depth of skill in her ‘World Premiere’ of this show.  It was bloody fantastic!  Amy played Karla, an innocent eleven-year-old girl coming to terms with getting her period for the first time.  Karla’s role is all mimed.  That might sound boring, but Amy actually made me realise how much lazier an actor could be when they rely on dialogue to act out their role. Her expressions and character were absolutely delightful, perfectly capturing the innocence and confusion of a child discovering new things. Karla’s mother is all dialogue and no acting—this role is voiced by Amy too.  Karla’s mother—delivered like an omniscient being from the sound system—talks Karla through the changes her body is experiencing. There are some hilarious, and some very touching moments.  It was heartening to hear so many males in the crowd laughing uproariously, I thought they were brave to even come along but after seeing the show it is obvious that you don’t need to have ovaries to enjoy the show.

There were a plethora of great props which I am not going to go into detail about here because some things just have to remain a surprise and my descriptions will not do them the justice they deserve.  There’s some excellent skills displayed with puppetry too, and if Amy created all those things she deserves a bloody award.  What surprised me the most was how ‘not gross’ it was.  Her particular mixture of child-like curiosity, play, and honesty dealt with what is usually a hidden and taboo subject in a very tidy way.  I didn’t leave feeling dirty and horrified, I left feeling so astonished and happy at what a fun show I had just seen.  I personally think this show should travel round the country being shown at schools because it is a brilliant, funny, non-awkward way to talk about a bloody annoying topic.

I think Amy might have worked long and hard on this project.  She seems to have thought of every little detail.  Her acting skills were exceptional and her connection with the audience incredibly natural and relaxed.  You could say it simply flowed beautifully. I’d like to take my daughters to it but its short run here is already finished.  We can only hope it comes back for a second showing, maybe on a monthly cycle….

This was top notch.  I’m proud to have been at the ‘World Premiere’ of Amy Atkins’ Period.

This review was published on