Abortion. It’s a word that puts everyone on edge. Science versus religion. Democrats versus Republicans. Men versus women. Person versus person. The word causes arguments to sling from all sides. Rarely do people stop shouting each other down to actually listen to the scientific research or the logic behind Roe v. Wade. This past weekend, the talented team over at Laughing Pig Theatre held a limited engagement of Rachel Lynett’s Abortion Road Trip. The title itself is a loaded gun, especially in our current political climate, but the show provided the perfect setting to shed light on this pertinent issue and engage the community in an important discussion.
Abortion Road Trip is a thought-provoking work. Three individual women whose three vastly different circumstances all ended with the same decision unknowingly join together for a journey that breaks them down and finally asks them to allow themselves the vulnerability to let their peers be vulnerable as well. Because that’s what vulnerability needs—the willingness of the listener or supporter to also be vulnerable.
How do we allow ourselves that vulnerability, though? How do we deal with our own tumultuous emotions in someone else’s emotionally charged situation, especially if it’s something that so resembles something we went through ourselves? Vulnerability and honesty beget good relationships—not just relationships of a romantic sort, but relationships of all natures. So if we know those stakes, it’s about finding the strength to trust ourselves with someone else’s heart and allowing them the same chance to accept ours as well.
That’s what Lynett’s carefully-crafted dialogue leads to. In the deft hands of Taylor Moschetti, Minnie is the big sister and best friend everyone knows. She’s savvy, sassy, and has a big heart. And when she takes the final step to break down her emotional barriers, you feel it. Her vulnerability brings all three women together in a show of solidarity. Without that willingness, Katya Orozco’s Lexa would never realize that she doesn’t just have to draw strength from herself. And Elaine Zimpleman’s Driver provides the unexpected, tentative warmth of a stranger who knows how important it is to never feel alone when you’re in your darkest moments. (Clare Thompson and Lydia Corbin cannot be excluded from this praise. Without Thompson’s Quinn and her erratic, misplaced displays of the wrong kind of support, the audience wouldn’t have the glimpse they needed into the other side of the argument. Corbin’s Mom shows us all how important unconditional love, support, and acceptance are in this world.)
Under Tony Moschetti’s direction, Rachel Lynett’s play and the following talkback blossomed into an opportunity for understanding. Not only were the actors’ emotions tangible, but the audience’s emotions were tangible as well. The room was charged, electric. Catharsis felt imminent. The vulnerability was fragile. It’s a testament to the directing and the acting that such intense emotions were still felt in the aftermath of the play. It’s a good day when you can sit down in a room full of virtual strangers and talk without the shame or judgment that usually holds us back.
Laughing Pig Theatre does an amazing job of creating a real, emotional experience for their audiences. If you’re looking for shows with talent and heart by the Mesa Arts Center. Laughing Pig Theatre is unafraid to present material on topics that are toughest. They are unafraid to ask their actors to dig deep. No doubt you’ll be thoroughly impressed by the world premiere of Donald Loftus’ Per. September 20, 21, 27, or 28—save any of those dates and check out another amazing performance from a theater company whose star shines bright across the Valley.
Alaina is a writer who lives in Phoenix. She is a proud feminist and likes to spend her spare time volunteering with women’s rights organizations, reading voraciously, and spending time with her loved ones.