Madame Ovary

We are introduced to Rosa as she jogs on the spot, planning her new years resolutions which include working hard, calling her grandma more and taking better care of her body. As she dissects the world of online dating, instagram worthy fashion and yoga for beginners, we can all relate to aspects of her everyday anxieties. And then, at the tender age of 23 years of age, Rosa is diagnosed with germ cell cancer of the omentum, stomach lining and lymph nodes and undergoes an intense menu of treatments.

An hour of gutsy enlightenment that shines a spotlight on what’s really important in life

This one person piece, written and performed by Rosa Hesmondhalgh, is at times breathtakingly sad, and at others intensely funny – though consistently it holds us in a place of safety. The erudite, reflective Rosa that stands before us makes it so. Utilising a plethora of tools such as poetry slam, rhyming couplets, vocal backdrops, videos, film clips, photographs and WhatsApp chat visuals, there’s a rich variety and an injection of humour that lightens the mood in appropriate places. Rosa captures moments in a blend of poetry and emotion so real that we feel transported in time. Changes of tempo, exhibited through her words and movements of body, transform us into that hospital theatre as the over-stimulus of the noise and beeping causes her to unravel in a panic of uncertainty.

Rosa boldly discusses elements of surviving cancer which are rarely mentioned – the PTSD, the survivors guilt, the constant worry that the indiscriminate disease will return with a vengeance. Cancer is a disease which touches everyone, and Rosa’s parting message is one which hits us all right in the feels and there’s barely a dry eye in the house by the end of this lightening fast hour. For while we’ve been hearing Rosa’s story, it’s not her story she’s there to tell. It’s ultimately the story of everyone who ever touched her, supported her, loved her and nurtured her through – even for the most fleeting of moments.

This is an hour which will make you think, make you laugh, make you sad and possibly make you cry. But it’s also an hour of gutsy enlightenment that shines a spotlight on what’s really important in life – the quality of the relationships we make. This piece has bags of potential, and with further performances will continue to elevate in quality.

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

It's January and Rosa is writing her resolutions. This is her year. She is going to stop going out with plonkers, start doing yoga and write some really good art. But before she's had time to delete her dating apps and get into downward dog, she's diagnosed. With ovarian cancer. And it's spread. Suddenly faced with hospitals, chemotherapy and her own mortality, Rosa's new goal for the year ahead is to survive it. Madame Ovary explores the typical struggle a 20-something has with trying to stay relevant and the less typical struggle of trying to stay alive.

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