City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Egg, manipulate Festival 2018, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Erin Roche - Posted on 29 January 2018

Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Paper Doll Militia
Sarah Bebe Holmes (creator, performer, aerialist, company co-director), Balazs Hermann (composer, bassist, drummer, performer)
Running time: 

Egg (Snapshots 2)

Plastic is, at once, both transparent and based in artificial creation. The same goes for Egg, a work in progress performance by Sarah Bebe Holmes about giving two years worth of her eggs to her friend Carol so that she may have a baby.

This incredibly exposing story is told through a mixture of monologue, live music, and scenes of aerial choreography which show the carefree, flexible, and courageous nature of Sarah the actress and subject, but which also act as metaphors for the descent of an ova, for the overtaking of an artificial process upon human anatomy, and for the vulnerable, yet beautifully strong act of not only undergoing the emotionally and medically invasive process of giving part of yourself to another but also of showcasing it all here for an audience to see.

Holmes transforms from herself to Carol to the hospital staff, denoting a change of character by changing from modest patent leather heels to combat boots to sterile white flats. Live music by way of Balazs Hermann’s electric bass, double bass, drum fashioned from PVC plastic, balloon, and more accompanies Holmes' jaw-dropping aerial artistry. Ingenious touches from the mimicking of the pull of thread by a bow upon a string to the use of a double bass as the visage of the female body are a common thread throughout Egg. The set feels sterile and clinical as plastic ropes hang from stage right and left, a plastic scrim hangs upstage, and a plastic water-filled bag rests in a nest-like apparatus.

Autobiographical monologues told while dangling, limbs outstretched, from PVC plastics show in words and in choreography the intimacy and arrest that stem from the choice to extract her eggs, to inject hormones, to open up her life and body to questioning and examination. From dehumanising experiences in the medical field to the commentary on choice within female reproductive healthcare, this piece floats atop social critique; however, Holmes’ words are not without the unexpected spurts of humour peppered in, pointing out the comedy in the fact that she is not “FDA-approved.”

In a stand-out moment from Egg , Holmes submerges herself tightly inside the plastic bag of water, the liquid slowly trickling out until she is thrust from the bag, born in a watery drop to the floor, a remarkable display that piques audience curiosity as to what other surprises this piece has to offer. Egg will fully develop these themes of fertility, choice, science, and strength during a run at Edinburgh Fringe 2018. See for more details.

Sarah Bebe Holmes presented Egg on January 27, the second in an Artists@Work series called Snapshots within the manipulate Festival that act as a platform for Scottish-based physical theatre organisations and artists to experiment and to showcase new works.