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My Pregnant Brother – Soho Theatre, London

Writer: Johanna Nutter

Director: Jeremy Taylor

Reviewer: Christopher Hong

[rating:3]

mypregnantbrotherOne can be forgiven for treating the title as a metaphorical reference to some psychological issues about a brother, and it may be a surprise to find that it really does refer to the real life pregnant brother of performer and writer Johanna Nutter. This autobiographical solo show is an intimate account of Nutter’s relationship with her mother and transgender brother. The relationship is at times difficult and each of them carries a lot of baggage from their own difficult personal background. There are numerous strands to Nutter’s concerns such as abortion, finance, fertility and emotional dependency but they are all packaged without pandering for sympathy.

The play is effectively presented in an understated and low key manner in contrast with the seemingly impossible sets of dramatic circumstances. It is not all doom and gloom as Nutter has a warmth, vulnerability and humour while also addresses the audience directly from time to time which brings the audience into the story. It is a heartfelt, cathartic exercise and she utilises her skill as a performer to balance the ups and downs of the situations. Ultimately, this is about Nutter’s big hearted love for her brother and her frustration over his actions. However, it is still a difficult set of experiences and it is hard to truly empathise.

The director, Jeremy Taylor has a difficult job in maintaining the balance of the play but it is well executed. The leisurely pace of the play does take its toll during some less dramatic sections and it feels a bit saggy. Although one of those parts is the childbirth scene which shows how fascinating the rest of the play is. The near empty set where Nutter draws a layout and backdrop with a piece of chalk keeps the focus on the story and reflects the paradoxically primeval feelings she has with a very modern set of affairs. And the single change of lighting during a symbolic part of the show effectively highlights the emotional power of the moment. It is an extraordinary story to tell and it is has a perfectly suited style and is beautifully presented. Perhaps the unusual set of facts does not make it entertaining, it is a story well worth sharing.

Runs until 1st September

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