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Mission Abort review at Vaults, London – ‘frank and funny’

Therese Ramstedt in Mission Abort at Vaults, London. Photo: Steve Ullathorne Therese Ramstedt in Mission Abort at Vaults, London. Photo: Steve Ullathorne

Therese Ramstedt’s solo show Mission Abort uses Flight of the Conchords in its soundtrack, so that makes it automatically great. But even if it didn’t, it would still be pretty good.

Transferring to London after running at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last summer and based on Ramstedt’s own life, it offers a frank glimpse into the head-spinning, hormonal, harrowing experience of having an abortion.

Blending direct address with short skits and easy audience interaction, Ramstedt leads the show on a time-hopping journey through her own short-lived pregnancy, from conception (was it in the bedroom, or on the kitchen table?) to tentative closure.

Ramstedt, alone on a stage with only a few chairs and a clinical white bench for company, is a warm and witty presence with a buoyant physicality. Refreshingly, she never shies away from the awkward stuff: the mental and physical toll of her decision, the pain of the process itself, the stifling societal stigma that prevents her talking about it.

Director Claire Stone litters her simple production with songs and snatches of other voices, but the emphasis is always on Ramstedt. It’s an intimate, personal show, rather than an overtly political one, but that does little to reduce its significance.

One in three women in the UK will choose to terminate a pregnancy at some point in their life. For those in that number, Mission Abort might offer emotional support, a hand to hold, or just taboo-breaking relief. For the rest of us, it’s a vital window onto what abortion really involves.

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A frank and funny glimpse into the mental and physical trauma of abortion