Deus Ex Femina presents Baby, What Blessings, an impacting production that both challenges and entertains audiences. (Image source: Baby, What Blessings Adelaide Fringe)
By Michelle Wakim | @MichelleWakim
Baby, What Blessings, written by Siofra Dromgoole, follows the character of Billie, a 19-year-old making her way through the convoluted time that is early adulthood. This hour-long production recounts Billie’s relationship with a man named Amal – a relationship that unravels Billie’s preconceptions of the world around her.
Through the central relationship, Baby, What Blessings offers audiences a modern exploration of race, identity politics and the importance of language, listening and being heard. These confronting themes are present in our contemporary discourses and are thoughtfully woven throughout the script. Katherine Sortini, performer of this one-woman-show and founder of Deus Ex Femina, navigates these themes with sensitivity, as her portrayal of Billie is intelligent, tender, and compelling. Sortini’s interpretation of Dromgoole’s script draws out the nuanced, heart-breaking, and charmingly honest content within the text.
While Sortini never drops character, the actress did stumble over words at various points on the night of review. These hiccups disrupt engagement and stunt some emotional and humorous moments. Now that opening night jitters are in the past, these stumbles will surely subside as performances continue.
The AmphiTheatre at Black Box Theatres, nestled in the Adelaide Botanic Garden, provides an exquisite performance space for Baby, What Blessings. The seating area and stage are intimate, as Sortini performs on ground level and audiences sit a few metres away on ascending steps, looking down on the performer.
There is vast open space behind Sortini, blacked out by the night sky. The open space serves as a backdrop, creating a jarring sense of isolation which mirrors the loneliness of acute self-awareness, confusion, and loss experienced by the protagonist. One armchair is the extent of the set, leaving Sortini vulnerable on-stage: a fitting dynamic to augment the play’s themes.
As described by the playwright, Baby, What Blessings explores ‘the age where every single new thing [we] experience causes [us] to entirely reassess [our] life’; this theme is achingly relatable, and is in itself enough to draw people in. Combine this layered script with Sortini’s talents and audiences are left with a memorable, thought-provoking, and poignant theatrical experience.
Baby, What Blessings is playing at Black Box Theatres until Sunday March 21 2021.