Having babies and nurturing them through their first months is not for every woman, and you don’t have to be diagnosed with post-natal depression to find it all overwhelming when Baby introduces a change of gear in every other aspect of your life. Luckily Emma Jerrold’s darkly comic scenes of a new mum’s struggle for identity are as reassuring as they are inspired.
And so we’re plunged into guilt, lack of sleep, being shown up by a super-mum, guilt about not loving the baby enough, baby vomit, breastfeeding in public, patronising health workers, at the cafe with natural super-mum and perfect baby again, then back to guilt.
But this is no mere lament to cracked nipples and stitches down there. As actor and writer of Broken Fanny, Jerrold offers us far more through relaying her scenes in reverse chronological order, a device that lends greater depth to the predicament of a mum trapped with no way out. And you don’t need to be a new parent to feel the depths of Jerrold’s despair when she sings a list of playgroup songs or admits to surreal conversations with the dawn chorus.
You’re unlikely to find to find a better or funnier exposition on the subject, and Jerrold’s enviably focused performance balances chatty with confessional, a compelling, powerful intimacy that is sustained by director Blanche McIntyre, who keeps the emotional highs and lows while ensuring that the pace never drops.