The tribulations of a new mother, watched by Jessica Harris.
“When a child is born, so too is a mother,” says Katie Guicciardi in the programme for Fox.
Inspired by true events, Fox, written and performed by Guicciardi, will ring true for many new mothers. Once the initial elation of a new-born baby has worn off, when the delight of friends and family has tempered, and after those around you have gone back to their normal lives, the experience of feeling alone and responsible for this tiny new life can be overwhelming. Lack of sleep compounds things. In short, no-one can fully prepare you for the changes in your life.
Fox is an exploration of the feelings of isolation and inadequacy that can go with motherhood, especially for those who have experienced birth trauma or difficulties during pregnancy.
On a sparse stage, furnished only with a chair, a Moses basket and a giant dolls-house, Guicciardi speaks directly to the audience. “Every day feels like Christmas now,” she says, and we hear her joy in caring for and interacting with her new infant. But, as the show goes on, a more complex situation is revealed.
The production compares Guicciardi’s own need for support, as a new mother, with the situation of a homeless man whom she observes outside her window. Like him, she is unable to ask for help. He asks her for a favour, but then doesn’t say what he needs. She doesn’t answer the phone when a friend calls. When the homeless man does receive help from others, she resents the fact that no-one is assisting her. Her husband snores the night away and leaves her to go on business trips. Her health visitor simply gives her a mental health questionnaire. The power of the show is in reminding us that we have all had feelings of guilt and failure, and have all had times when we need the help of others.
Guicciardi holds her audience in this one-woman show, and her direct engagement with us creates an intimacy. The gradual disclosure of her true feelings has impact, and we are happy that she does learn how to ask for help. This, we feel, is beginning of her journey of recovery.
However, the piece overall feels a little monotone. A bit more variety in script and delivery would have been welcome. Sometimes, showing rather than telling, coupled with use of dark humour, can pack a stronger punch than straight forward narrative.
The production and its supporting resources were put together with the help of a clinical psychologist, Dr. Frankie Harrison. It was written and performed by Katie Guicciardi and directed by Lisa Cagnacci. The producer was Carbon Theatre and Becky Barber.
Fox is on tour until 14th May. For further information visit carbontheatre.org.uk/fox.