Cotton Fingers ticks a lot of the boxes you might expect it to, coming from Trezise; it’s gritty, honest, funny, poetic (the line “a dusty mushroom of fear growing inside my belly” is still circling my head), and the story feels real and raw – which it should. It’s the story of a 19 year old girl from born, brought up and living in Belfast when a quickie with her boyfriend finds her pregnant…and desperate not to be.
The backdrop (set design by Carl Davies) is basic but has impact; a brick wall, reflective floor and good lighting helps turn a row of plastic seats into a sofa, an aeroplane, the waiting room at a surgery, the GPs office, the bed Aoife shares with Cillian that sets the whole story in motion.
This simplicity carries through the story, too, as Amy Molloy gives us Aoife’s story straight up, no frills or overblown theatrics.
The back and fore between now and the past – snippets of Aoife’s childhood, of last Christmas with her mammy, and of what she thought she saw and knew about her deceased aunt Roisin – add flesh to Aoife’s life on a Belfast estate.
There were times when I felt like I wanted more – higher highs and lower lows, but the sometimes understated way this story unfolds is testament to life; things happen, and though they are dramatic and life-altering for that time, or for that individual, they barely ripple for other people.
Molloy’s performance is pretty raw at times, and my mascara was a mess by the time it was over. But I’d laughed too. A lot. (And not just at the sheep jokes.)
I can’t help but wonder what difference it makes to tell Aoife’s story in Cardiff. In Belfast, Derry-Londonderry and Dublin. Is the audience more relaxed outside of Ireland? Is there a tension in the air when an Irish audience sits down to watch a one-woman show about abortion?
Cotton Fingers leaves us with the message that the freedom to choose remains non existent for the women of Northern Ireland.
Aoife leaves with hope in her heart.
Cotton Fingers is on at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff until Saturday 8th June. If you miss it, you’ll need to hop over to Edinburgh to catch it at Summerhall, as part of the Fringe.