From pregnancy to new mums to generational divides, we round up five of the best shows exploring and celebrating what it means to be a mother.
Dance: Raven * * * *
"Anke, Lena and Romy are all dancer-acrobats. They are also all mothers, wary – because they want to continue their careers – of being called “raven mothers”, the German pejorative phrase (with equivalents the world over) for women who are supposedly more interested in themselves than in their children."
Comedy: Josie Long: Tender * * * *
"Long’s eco-concerns are ever-present but exist as a background hum, as she scrambles to adjust to motherhood. With some wider changes in society but not enough, as outdated notions about acceptable topics for stand-up persist and she continues to experience abuse simply for doing her job, she offers a wry and often hilariously detailed account of her labour.
"Katie Guicciardi’s Fox, at the Pleasance Courtyard, covers the same territory as Raven in a simpler monologue style. On a stage dominated by a large doll’s house representing a London suburban home, Guicciardi leads us into the increasingly painful world of a young first-time mother who adores her new baby son, but who soon becomes so isolated and exhausted by the extreme pressures of adapting to motherhood."
Theatre: Subject Mater * * * *
"Beneath the comic-tragic melodrama of Roxanne's obsession with her own crushed aspirations is a troubled relationship with her at times abusive husband. "You're deluded," he says. "No, diluted," she replies. But despite being in some ways trapped, in others she's free – a woman with her own distinctive voice who's unafraid to use it, no matter who gets hurt, not least, at times, her kids."
Theatre: Everything I See I Swallow * * * *
"Everything I See I Swallow is a study of shifting attitudes to female empowerment and sexuality. Both Olivia and her mother invoke their ideological heroines, from Angela Carter and Orlan to Caitlin Moran and Beyoncé. It is also a reflection of the age-old story of the power struggle between generations as each tries to understand the other, beautifully illustrated by aerial performance by both actors."