Egg @ Summerhall

Inspired by true events, Sarah Bebe Holmes' masterful performance tells of her misunderstood experiences of IVF treatment in a raw and elegant form

Review by Dominic Corr | 13 Aug 2018

Many of us grasp the bare-boned concept of IVF; fewer understand its physical, financial, emotional and mental realities. While not necessary a taboo – lacking knowledge still resides it an untouched subject, tilting heads of judged confusion. Paper Doll Militia’s Egg chronicles the journey of IVF implantation.

The very moment you enter the demonstration room it strikes with the dedication involved. Breathing, twisting and morphing within the unborn sac is Sarah Bebe Holmes – with every beat of rhythm our hearts synchronise as your gaze, fascinated. 

The multitude of narrative devices used are inventive, yet key to making this all work. Balázs Hermann’s score accompanies the tone deftly. The body of his cello becoming engraved by light to show the invasiveness of the procedures. His rustles and strums convulse along with her as we see the projected ovary engorge.

There’s a scent of the unhinged to Holmes' performance, unfolding fresh creative ways in which to communicate their story. This isn’t simply an investigative trek as she expertly metamorphoses from Sarah into Carol then various experts – all of whom with separate goals and opinions. No, instead Egg conducts a symphony in emotive feelings all interlaced with biological queries. Holmes’ performance also leading to inquiring maternity, self-judgements and familial issues surrounding (in)fertility.

Holme’s aerial feats command the room. Lacing herself around the tubing – doubling as anaesthetic hosing, its construct that of an umbilical cord. All the while perfectly translucent, just as Holmes intends to be with her experiences. This stark openness becomes further reflected in the aerial feats themselves, Holmes using them as a platform, elevating the performance (literally) to new elevations.

Paper Doll Militia have created masterpiece paradox theatre. Egg is simple yet multi-faceted. The balance between elegant fragility, complimented with a stern strength is enthralling. Ten years of history, dedication and creativity have delivered a celebratory experience which I encourage all to witness if they get the chance. 

Egg, Summerhall, 1-26 Aug (not 2, 6, 13 or 20), 18.15pm, £12-8

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