Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Alice no, La Petite Mort Teatro, Prague Fringe 2024 ★★★★☆

You’re only getting three mini-pizzas – just so you know – if you’re in the waiting room after a serious operation. Alice no opens in a pitch black abyss from within which we can hear the clownish voices of two overly-attending nurses apply restrictions and expectations onto the diet of their patients. As the light of the hospital ward breaks through, we meet one of those patients, Alice, and soon find that she feels that restrictions and expectations on her life extend far beyond the mini-pizza limit.

Alice no is a decisively frank, fresh, and experiential look at the expectations of women to become mothers, situated in the experience of abortion aftercare. Performed solo by Sofia Pauly over the hour, she embodies the confident, mischievous Alice at a crossroads in her life. Also portrayed is the young woman next to her, far more new to the world, and trusting in Alice for guidance in her life. Between this, the nurses, and some more contemplative abstract moments, Pauly delivers a consistently engaging performance, wry with smart humour yet emotively deep and pungent.

The creative design of this piece blends and blurs – though the narrative carries us forward though Alice’s thoughts and emotions after her operation, the whole piece exists within a deeply contemplative space. Moments of splendour intertwine – in the darkness, and in a moment where Alice stops to stare into the stars. Combined with the fresh and fast jokes and humorous delivery of Alice’s life events, we’re invited into this woman’s headspace with decisive clarity.

Pauly holds the room through Alice’s self-assuredness, she has control over her sex life and her body, as is demonstrated in her blasé relationship with boyfriend Felix. As we continue through the narrative, however, it becomes clear that Alice is concerned by how little she is feeling after the operation she has gone through, in stark comparison to her neighbour who is wrought with emotion.

Shouldn’t Alice be feeling something after such an intimate healthcare intervention? Why do those around her keep asking her when she’ll have a baby? How could she balance bringing a child into this world with her career, and when the world seems to be falling apart around her? There are no answers provided by Alice, instead an expressive response asking us to look at the world of reproductive healthcare through her circumstances and her eyes.

The show’s title becomes a moniker for Alice’s views on the world – each time she is asked questions or has a controversial thought she refrains herself with the phrase ‘Alice, no!’. Maybe this is the true answer to the questions the show poses – even in the situation where Alice is taking autonomy over her body through an abortion, she still feels that the major decisions in her life have to be restricted, set by a system that values her unfairly as both a woman with autonomy yet also an objectified conceiver.

Besides the depth of the themes on display, there is no doubt that this a strong piece of narrative storytelling. Alice is a convincingly written character, with real-life modern problems at the front of her mind, yet still entirely believable, engaging, and an introspective person to spend an hour with. The script is so well written and it’s hard to believe that I was there at the first ever translated performance into English (the original is in Italian), as it seems to fit so naturally.

At times, I felt that the drama of the piece could come across as quite drawn out – we came back to the same issues a few times and felt that there was scope for even more to be explored thematically, and at a faster pace.

This is a production with joy and introspection at its’ heart – creatively produced to provide a space for contemplation and discussion around reproductive health and the constraints placed on modern women and those able to conceive. Lucid and expressive comedy drama unpack the themes with verve and often whimsy.

Recommended Drink: Grab a G&T with Alice at her favourite bar.

Catch Alice no until June 1st as part of Prague Fringe. Tickets are available through the Prague Fringe Box Office.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2023), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023-24), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them