Rosie Garton and Ildiko Rippel from Zoo Indigo present a personal account of their struggle to combine their roles as mothers with the lives they lead as artists. They introduce us to their children who are projected onstage live via skype and tell us that they would like us, the audience, to babysit them so they can get on with the show. The show itself, is a collage, featuring attempts at reenacting scenes from the film Thelma and Louise, whose characters are also wrestling with the roles they play, and flashbacks to a pregnancy that one of the company members experienced through phone calls, a description of an embroidery she made for the baby and a monologue in which we are taken, in the third person, through the tragic breakdown of events to the track she was listening to in the labour suite as her stillborn baby was delivered.
Under the Covers is deliberately not a clean or polished show, it is, like a parent in a hurry, on the edge of organised. The homespun aesthetic is playfully chaotic and their attempts at audience participation, either taking part in line dancing, or singing happy birthday, or ringing one of their husbands to make sure their baby has the right book in his bed, add a frisson of the unplanned. Sometimes props are misplaced and the framing of the live video goes awry, but they make no attempt to hide these mistakes because they are being themselves. When a camera stops working, the performer simply asks the technician to help. They perform autobiographical material with disarming honesty and charm and are not afraid to ask if we might want to escape parenthood, if only for one night.
Ultimately, when juggling parenting with performing, it is not easy to keep everything under control, and as they frequently stop the show to ask us how their children are doing they exhibit every parent’s desire to put their children first, even when most performers would not. The offstage family is brought onstage and, at the end, as an audience member reads out a children’s story the performers quietly slip away. There is no grand finale but the after-effects of the show are profoundly felt by the audience. There is laughter at Zoo Indigo’s comical attempts to create tears using a water pistol and real tears from parents who have experienced similar loss or similar love.