They say you become a father the day your baby is born, but you become a mother the day your baby is conceived. Many cultures, indeed many religions, give a mother the purest, highest stature. Parentcraft (a play by Stephen Smith) is a show about becoming a parent, including some of the less glorified elements of motherhood in particular.
We open as the participants of an antenatal class start to arrive, and the slightly erratic but very chatty Sharon is handing out name badges. Sharon is a participant too, and only helping, but she’s an expert (having had seven children already). She is joined by Susan and Derek, Siobhan and finally, Lesley. As they all wait for the delayed midwife to arrive, the conversation ends up with Derek’s boasts about his business of selling skateboards made out of trays to local kids – which leaves Lesley aghast, as she works for the Inland Revenue. Cue awkward back-pedalling from Derek for the rest of the show.
The actor playing Siobhan is hilarious, has great comic timing and holds the spotlight for most of the show. As the show progresses, misunderstandings between Susan and Derek surface, some of the very bitter realities of the fate of pregnant working women are dealt with – and it becomes clear that one among them is keeping a big secret.
There is lack of balance in the script. Lesley’s character, for example, felt like it existed for the sole purpose of providing a foil for Derek’s ‘side-business’. The mysterious secret could have been drawn out more so we had more time to ruminate over their guesses; instead, it’s revealed quite quickly. And while Siobhan’s lines and acting were very funny throughout, the rest of the characters seemed based in awkwardness (and lots of umm-ing and aah-ing).
With a subject that will strike a chord with many, this show has a certain appeal. But if you’ve never been to an ante-natal class, it might not be for you.