REVIEW: Mission Abort, Gilded Balloon @ Rose Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe

With one in three women having had an abortion in their lifetime, and 95% claiming they don’t regret it, Mission Abort, certainly has a relevant audience.  The subject matter was tackled with comedy and ease, but a raw pain seemed to underly the piece, particularly in the sung sections, that left the message somewhat confused.

The narrative follows the story of one women’sjourney through conception, pregnancy and termination, giving a fascinating personal insight into an issue largely discussed and distanced as a political, rather than personal, debate. The script was snappy and full of wit, exploring the full context and consequences of the decision with humour, without dismissing the seriousness of the subject. Direct address and audience participation are used throughout, jarring the audience into an uncomfortable one-sided discussion in which they are brought into the story as silent figures. Audience participation is always a double edged sword, risking the alienation of your audience through insistence and pressure. Due to this use of audience, I would have liked to have seen discussion opened, perhaps through the use of a site-specific space or post-show debrief, to truly allow the audience to voice their own opinions and beliefs, rather than begrudgingly serving the narrative out of a mixture of guilt and embarrassment.

Following on from this, as the piece continued, the presentation seemed increasingly gratuitous, with the introduction of singing. Though the performer’s voice was beautiful, the repetition of this device started to feel a little unnecessary and over-used, and would have been better utilised to pinpoint one particularly dramatic moment.

Despite this downfall, Mission Abort is a funny and interesting piece, deconstructing the more human side of the abortion debate, the feelings surrounding abortion and the larger effects of it’s social derision. For me, the piece needed to be cut to a shorter length, keeping only the most necessary sections, and opened to the audience at the end, but it absolutely must be commended for the importance of it's subject matter and of it’s message.