Eggsistentialism’s gestation

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Don’t be fooled; Joanne Ryan has an innate ear for and understanding of theatre. Photo: Ken Coleman

CONSIDER a one woman show that weaves her personal journey towards making a baby with a potted look at our nation’s reproductive health-history. Not much of a crowd pleaser, right? Bound to be ‘womb, doom, gloom’ stuff, right?

So wrong.

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Now three years on the road and gathering international plaudits, prizes and momentum with successive productions, Joanne Ryan’s ‘Eggsistentialism’ stops off at Belltable on its third iteration. Credit The Strollers’ Network touring award and a bursary from Limerick City and County Council for funding this10-stop tour.

The Limerick venue is where her work premiered with comedic ferocity in 2016, another hit play out of the Belltable: Connect theatre making programme. Note that she has a baby-friendly show at noon this Friday 29 and an 8pm performance.

Friday November 29 at 12noon and 8pm.
Photo: Eoghan Lyons

Consider some of ‘Eggsistentialism’s wins such as Edinburgh Fringe 2017 Best Storytelling Bouquet and the award for Best Festival Moment – in that city of a thousand platforms – and Sydney Fringe 2018’s Critics’ Pick.

Chatting over the phone about this most recent ‘Eggsistentialism’, she nurses her eight month-old son Rowan who gurgles contentedly down the line. On the road  professionally with him and her partner, she is tickled that Rowan’s appearance in venue lobbies at the end of her show (night feed) has made him the star.

“The purpose of this tour is that ‘Eggsistentialism’ has been redeveloped by the same creative team and updated to show personal changes, and the political side of things,” explains the writer and actor. “There have been seismic changes there, such as the repeal of the 8th Amendment and international women’s movements [#TimeForChange, etc]. I think ‘Eggsistentialism’ is now much more rounded, personally and politically.”

Is it as witty and sharp? “I think so”; one woman fell off a chair laughing in the sell-out run at London’s Arcola Theatre.

Interestingly, Joanne stopped touring once her 2018 pregnancy began to show. Adventures with Rowan’s arrival are integrated into the writing and there is a new political superstructure framing the storytelling, a story that continues to reveal:  “You have to be honest about these things. Mythologising motherhood does everyone a disservice.”

Joanne Ryan gives full credit to the input of those who stayed loyal throughout the hormones, tours, the rewriting and the honours: Veronica Coburn, director and dramaturg; Sinead Diskin on sound; Neil O’Driscoll on jazzy, informative AV projections.

Book at venue manager www.limetreetheatre.ie