by Sarah Joy Bennett and Ginette Mohr
50 min / 14+ / Puppet
Night Feed is masterfully—or should I say “mistressfully”—done. It’s advertised as “a puppet show about motherhood” but to be more accurate, it’s “a one woman/two inner voices show about early motherhood, with lots of props.” One of these props is a realistic model of an infant. The inner voices are played by two doppelgängers—women dressed in pyjamas that match Heather’s.
Heather is a new mum. It’s the middle of the night. She’s up for the umpteenth time for a night feeding of her newborn daughter, who is having difficulty breastfeeding. The one-hour feedings are scheduled every 90 minutes, and Heather is subsisting on three hours of sleep each day. She’s horribly sleep-deprived. Consequently, she’s alternating between negative self-talk (“I don’t know what I’m doing,” “I don’t think you’re up to this,”) and hallucinating that various objects in her apartment are talking to her.
It’s a marvel how many challenges of early motherhood the three talented authors/actors have crammed into this 50-minute gem!
These objects are manipulated and voiced by the doppelgängers. They range from books to a bicycle to a bottle of Jack Daniels. And boobs—models of Heather’s large mammaries which scold her that she must always feed first from the left breast for 30 minutes, then from the right breast for another 30 minutes. If she doesn’t, she’ll end up with “a cantaloupe and a lemon.” Her neglected bike tempts her to put the baby in the crib and take to the rainy streets for a spin. The Jack Daniels bottle whines that it’s been nine long months since she’s had a taste, and wouldn’t it be nice… A hilarious pair of dust bunnies chastise Heather about the filthy state of her apartment. Dancing disposable diapers lay an ecological guilt trip on her, then pile on the guilt about the horrible state of the world that she’s brought her daughter into.
Everything isn’t depressing. There’s a short lyrical interlude when two flocks of classic children’s novels wing their way across Heather’s living room, and she imagines how wonderful it will be to read those books together when her daughter is older.
Then a pushy (sorry for the bad pun) breast pump attacks her, aggressively outlining how unpleasant her life will be when she goes back to work, needing to express her milk in the office washroom and lug around a cooler to store the precious liquid as if it were a human organ. “Nobody ever said motherhood was for wimps!”
Fortunately, Heather isn’t a wimp.
It’s a marvel how many challenges of early motherhood the three talented authors/actors—Sarah Joy Bennett, Ginette Mohr and Corinne Murray—have crammed into this 50-minute gem!
Night Feed by Sarah Joy Bennett and Ginette Mohr is playing at Academic Hall (133 Seraphin-Marion) until Sunday June 23, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.