Ghastly, written and performed by Rosina Aichner, is a 50-minute one-woman show performed at the Bread and Roses, a fringe theatre pub. It is a thought-provoking, unique play that everyone – and I mean everyone – should see.

As we entered the theatre, Rosina, whilst in character, greeted us and directed us to our seats. She welcomed the audience to the practice run of her pitch to investors (who, unsurprisingly, are mostly white middle-aged cis males) for a research trial of a male contraceptive pill. A trial which ran in 2016 but had to end early due to the side effects men experienced. (Spoiler – it was four side effects.)

Her set included some absolutely brilliant presentation posters and a few props she made great use of, such as changing into red heels, taking off her lab coat, and offering biscuits. These were all ingenious moves to show the consideration expected of Rosina, a researcher but still a woman. And the lengths she had to go through to make sure her predominately male audience was comfortable, fed, entertained, and liked looking at her.

She began the show as a nervous, slightly scatter-brained researcher, but as her presentation continued, her enthusiasm changed to a serious, raw, and emotional testimony of the generational trauma that can come with female hormonal contraception.

The theatre provided an intimate experience. In which I felt like there were no barriers between myself and Rosina. She had my complete attention for the entire show. As she gave her heavier monologue, I found myself leaning forward in my chair, transfixed. Her show had the perfect balance of humour and seriousness, and while noting there was not one easy answer, she made crucial points about the inexpressible inequality in male and female contraception.

Ghastly is a work in progress and only on for two nights (31st of May and 1st of June). I’m so glad I was able to see it, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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