Review: Stark Bollock Naked

Stark Bollock Naked falls short in unveiling the complexities of reproduction and choice

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Stark Bollock Naked
Photo by Jeannine Unsen
Published 03 Aug 2023

“On my tombstone, it’ll say ‘selfish bitch!’” wails Larisa Faber, one half of the Luxembourgish duo at the heart of Stark Bollock Naked. Her supposedly unforgivable deed? Letting the family name die out.

Whether to have children, and whether our bodies belong to us long enough to decide, are questions that drive Stark Bollock Naked, a half-clown half-performance art piece exploring issues of fertility, motherhood, and our attitudes towards female reproduction. “Your art will be different… full of life… meaningful,” our performers are promised. They seem less sure.

There’s real Fringe spirit at work here; Stark Bollock Naked transforms gynaecological instruments into musical ones and tackles thorny plotlines such as abortion and medical negligence with deadpan vim. Yet the play’s absurdist streak (encompassing everything from fallopian tube curtain ties to a musical interlude about whisking eggs), while occasionally charming, doesn’t quite crack matters open as might be expected, or needed.

In an era marked by increasingly fraught reproductive healthcare, Stark Bollock Naked’s choice to linger in discussions of biological clocks and women-having-it-all feels limited, and frustratingly dated. This tendency to broad strokes leaves everything a little flat: the two individual performances – despite frenetically overlapping dialogue – don’t quite cohere and the staging is often hesitant and staid. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs; if only Stark Bollock Naked had broken a few more rules, a few more conventions, along the way.