Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Lily is 23, young, free and single and waiting for her life to start, but she’s hit a bump. Bump is a tale of some of the awkward encounters and nauseating moments that make up a girl’s life.
Rosa Torr is Lily in this story written by Torr in conjunction with her directors Rosa Bowden and Cathal Sheerin. She is convincing from the moment she steps on the stage. She wins our hearts and we follow her narrative with sympathy and understanding. This is the story of a 23-year-old girl from a religious family faced with an unwanted pregnancy. We see how she ends up in that waiting room and her story is so ordinary that its ending is truly heartbreaking.
Lily feels abandoned by her best friend Louise at a party and so she hooks up with Alex and the inevitable happens. As she speaks, we get a glimpse into her way of thinking and her desperate need to be cool, to act the part of the person she wants to be so she will be accepted. She tells us, “It’s not about being cool. It’s about being grown up.” But innocence and the need to feel proud of who you are are huge inhibitors and when Alex tells her she is beautiful, she is putty in his hands. Lily comes from a respected, church-going family, a family who does everything right. “My mom is so upright, I have never been able to talk to her about sex.”
When she realizes she is pregnant, she cannot go to her mother and she and Louise are still not speaking. Alone and frightened, she buys a pregnancy test and when it registers positive she swallows her fear and her pride to tell her mom. Her mother listens to her daughter tell her she is having a baby and says. “I have a few friends coming for dinner. I better go.”
And once again, Lily is alone with the knowledge that she is not prepared in any way to bring up a child on her own, especially since she has no real relationship with the father. She goes to an abortion clinic and is confronted with the threatening slogans that tell her she is a murderer, but she knows this is something she must do. Abortion for her is not a choice. It is a necessity. She makes the appointment and is told she must find someone to be with her afterwards.
Louise is Lily’s final hope for support and her friend does not let her down. “Are you scared?” she asks. And Lily says, “A bit but it is something I have to do.”
Lily’s story is not unique. Thousands and thousands of young women are faced with unwanted pregnancies, when they know they do not have the emotional or financial resources to bring a child into the world. Society and religion have made these women victims while the men who father these unwanted babies bear no responsibility at all.
This show has a huge subtext that every woman in the audience knows by heart. We have all lived it. We have seen it played out over and over again. It would have been a richer play had the authors delved into Lily’s very valid reasons for aborting, but they do not. They have Lily say, “I need to do this for me,” but there are far deeper reasons why Lily was right in aborting the birth. We all sensed this, but it would have made a far more powerful piece, if Lily’s reasons were made more apparent.
Society cannot be told often enough what it is doing to young women when it opens the door to sexual freedom, but does nothing to deal with the results. Instead, we tell our young people that sex something we should all enjoy. Then we brand the women who believed us as sinners and murderers while many men do not even know they might have been fathers. Lily’s story is a tragedy so common it no longer shocks us. That is the crime that this play brings so effectively to life.