Review: ★★★★★ Madame Ovary, VAULT Festival

There are around 2,600 new cancer cases confirmed in young people every year in the UK. It turns out; 23-year-old Rosa was one of them. This is her true story.

Bounding onto the space with energy, Rosa begins with optimistic New Year resolutions: to look after her body and to prioritise the right things. She is endlessly engaging, witty and relatable, joking about her suspiciously bloated stomach as the audience chuckle knowingly at projections of her Google search spiral, ranging from constipation to gall stones.

The projection is a useful tool, encapsulating Rosa’s network of communications, from Tinder notifications, to family chats, to the other end of subtitled dialogue with a nurse – but Rosa also makes a point of multi-roling some of the figures in her life, which she achieves with skilled subtlety.

As the play progresses, it is quite clear that all is not well: Rosa has stage 3 ovarian cancer. Nevertheless, she makes every effort to sprinkle each moment with a hint of humour, announcing in the middle of her internal ultrasound: “This is the most action I’ve had in months!” Her speech is poetic, fast-paced, manic and raw. There are times of heartbreak, deep love and connection with friends and family, and moments of dark humour as she comments on her love life: “I couldn’t even get past the second date without getting cancer!” You find yourself laughing, crying and overflowing with love simultaneously.

WildChild’s Madame Ovary is a gripping, informative yet sensitive piece, shedding light on the thoughts, fears and little pieces of joy you can find in the darker moments in life.

Tess Kennedy

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Tess Kennedy
Tess Kennedy

Tess Kennedy moved to London to be closer to her first love: theatre. It’s just a coincidence that she’s also now much closer to her second love, Idris Elba. During the week, Tess works as a Marketer at ArtsEd drama school, but in her spare time she enjoys reading, singing, pilates, pina coladas — although she can take or leave getting caught in the rain. Tess has been writing for Upper Circle since January 2019, where she’s seen more Fringe than Jonathan Van Ness, as well as plenty of one-woman-shows and musicals. Although she’s a big fan of the musical genre, Tess draws the line at Cats. That’s not because she’s a dog person though – Tess loves her family cats more than most humans – it’s because the visual of Idris Elba meowing in a skintight leotard gave her paws for thought.

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