Tucked away in one of Greenside’s smaller studios,
If you go and see one new show at the Fringe this year, make it this one.
Approaching the audience barefoot out of the darkness, Mariah MacCarthy’s vulnerability is open and unconcealed from the first beat. Settling herself into the story of her pregnancy, as she tells of her first realisation that a heart would soon be beating inside her, we too are drawn in by her steady gaze which meets every pair of eyes in the room.
Giving away your child must surely be one of the most life-changing moments a woman can experience. Rationally, as well as emotionally, we are taken through the facts, figures and feelings behind this pivotal decision –- as MacCarthy “does the math” on how to raise a child as a single parent, I can see audience members nodding with her as if we are all seated round a coffee table and discussing the merits of taking on a new gym membership. This is down to the informality with MacCarthy approaches such a touching and deeply intimate subject, breaking down any sense of taboo and inviting us to share each precious moment with her.
MacCarthy is gifted with the power to connect with people; whether poised on her seat or strolling from side to side, her arms and posture are reaching out and engaging with the room, inviting and acknowledging laughs as well as gasps as her story unfolds.
Unlike the gulps of water stolen between breaths by stand-up comedians, Sara Lyons’ directorial influence gives this story, and its author, space to breathe. The use of subtle lighting changes allows MacCarthy time to collect herself between each chapter, sometimes to pull back from what was very nearly a point of no return. In the silent pauses, there are sounds around me that indicate I am not the only one to be moved to tears by these moments.
From the point of conception to the last goodbye, this is the tale of one unforgettable year in Mariah’s life, shared with unflinching detail and incredible poignancy. This production has been touring since 2014, which only makes it more impressive that MacCarthy continues to tell her tale as if it happened yesterday. If you go and see one new show at the Fringe this year, make it this one.