My interest in seeing this show came about for a few reasons. There’s the obvious, my being a childfree person and having recently seen a documentary called “My So-Called Selfish Life” for the second time. As some may or may not know, I got a tubal ligation at 26 years old after a major battle with trying to find someone willing to do it. I made that choice since I’ve always been career oriented and working in 2 fields that aren’t known for being child friendly; I’m not even sure law or entertainment have become more child friendly since that time but my story didn’t even happen in the 20th century or further back in time. I’d hoped a woman in 2023 trying to get voluntary sterilization would have an easier time of it now but apparently, that’s not happening.
So this brings us to “Misconceptions,” the story of a young artist named Harriet (Hilary Dennis) who finds herself pregnant and having to decide what she’s going to do. She has a daughter named Alicia already and the father of this pregnancy, Jorge (Sean Mana) is a guy who seems to mean well but his track record hasn’t been ideal. Harriet also has reservations about forsaking her artistic career as she is gaining more public prominence while Jorge decides he wants to step up and be a full time father, ready to embrace the suburban narrative of the white picket fence, 2.3 kids and so forth.
Darcelle (Celli Pitt), Harriet’s agent and close friend has to school Harriet on a few facts related to abortion and the historical experiences of women of color as Harriet decides to explore this topic in an effort to decide what she’s going to do about her own pregnancy. If you’ve read Toni Morrison’s book “Beloved” (like I did in undergrad and college), you may be surprised to know that there was a real life Sethe though that story didn’t go into details as to what that woman’s motivation was; she was simply arrested & confessed. I will not disclose the details of Sethe’s story since you can read “Beloved” for yourself but it presents a very pertinent idea and notion that’s very true for the time of slavery. Harriet presumes Darcelle being a lesbian will never encounter unwanted pregnancy and hasn’t thus far. However, the truth is far harsher than Harriet even knows.
The staging for this show was very cool since it was a 360 view. The director, Jessica Burr, introduced the show and did the most humorous money ask I’ve ever seen. Writer Steve Wangh also puts some elements of humor into the show aside from the seriousness of the topic and I feel like he covered the perspectives of both sides quite well with a conversational style though both this and “My So-Called Selfish Life” don’t examine my specific take on this subject or how I argue it with people. There were even a couple meta moments like Harriet exploring writing a stage play based on her project with abortion as she’s talking to people on all sides of the spectrum.
This also marks the first time I ever saw an actor (Perri Yaniv) come out from underneath the audience seating to get onstage. He does this to play the fetus. In one segment, a pro-life attorney (Rich Brown) tries to get the fetus’s take on whether it would like to be born or not. The pro-life attorney goes into the arguments you typically hear from the pro-life crowd and asks about existence, a concept far over the head of this fetus who’s simply hanging out. This imagining also marks a first and is probably accurate to what would happen in real life since how would a fetus be able to contemplate living independently and outside a womb?
Overall, I feel like this show covered the spectrum of views on the subject and wouldn’t totally alienate conservative types. After all, Harriet’s own mother (Ethelyn Friend) even showed empathy for her even though she was said to be a conservative pro-life type. However, it would not be the show to take young children and would be more appropriate for adults or older teenagers you’ve had the abortion conversation with.