Theatre is the perfect place for exploring subjects that aren't often discussed in mainstream culture, and Pennyroyal does just that. Lucy Roslyn's play tackles the grief and sisterhood in a truthful depiction of the route to becoming a mother, when that pathway is constantly being battered with new obstacles.
Daphne (Madison Clare) is diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency at just 19, and from then, her perception of life and her own future was warped dramatically. Although she was not looking to have children at the time, the thought of not even having the choice was harrowing. Christine (Lucy Roslyn) is the older sister, and thinks the only real way she can help is by offering to donate her eggs, thereby sharing the journey.
As they grow up, grow apart, and grow a garden, this initial plan proves to be even harder than originally thought. Speaking through the years, Daphne exclaims about how her body has changed, and the wild nights she lead, feeling like somebody else, while Christine stays home from University, putting extra efforts into creating a nursery business, alongside the garden at their house. Both, however, undergo heartbreaking cycles as their worlds drift further away from ideal.
Several different techniques are used throughout the show to keep it fresh. Switching between acting the narrative, to conversation with each other; monologues to the audience, and even sitting amongst the front row at times, this keeps the piece dynamic and moving best it can. With only a small and intimate space- two chairs and some glass-enclosed plants- the imagery is limited, but this closeness embodies the audience in the story, and leaves you unquestionably rooting for the girls to have a happy ending. There are moments that become a little lost as they aren't shown, such as emotions on the event from other people involved such as their mother and partners, though perhaps this enhances the focus on the two characters so they don't lose the spotlight.
The pair appear comfortable in their roles, performing naturally as if they have that unbreakable sibling bond between them. Over the duration of the piece, it is clear that the playful energy contrasts the deeper, meaningful elements, which works well.
Pennyroyal is an honest portrayal of a situation that is more common than ever gets mentioned. It's thought-provoking and sensitive, and we can only hope that topics like this become more wide-spoken in the coming days.