Hollering Woman Creek at Bristol Old Vic

Amy Mason is a natural storyteller, poetic and darkly comedic. Her writing carries the weight of an old soul. Hollering Woman Creek is a siren, warning mothers away from the sharp rocks of parenthood, not away as a warning against being a mother – far from it. Mason delivers a refreshingly honest, raw, brutal and brave account of the fear and uncertainty that an unplanned pregnancy can bring.


The structure of the story telling is hung around Mason’s trip to Texas and death row, to research for her second novel. The stark comparison of visiting the death row bookshop – (literally a gift shop attached to the actual death row, filled with gifts made by the prisoners) and Mason’s underlying feeling that her life was over, the death of the person she has been before discovering the parent she will be – is haunting and powerful.


Award winning musicians Megan Henwood and Jackie Oates deliver first aid through their music, accompanied by clear hopeful voices. This contrast to the storytelling is a place for the audience and Mason to rest. The stage is simple two hay bales, two musicians, a rocking chair and Mason and her words.


Ultimately and surprisingly her show is first and foremost a love story. A story about love and acceptance between Mason and her partner Steff, an honouring of their relationship and the journey that they have been through, together, to become parents. Showing that being present and loving with each other, building trust and love in the face of change, is all you can do for each other. Mason recounts saying to Steff ‘… but I can be a really terrible person.’ His reply, ‘Me too. Don’t you think I worry about that too.’


The audience could be drawn in more with a mixture of voice and microphone work, maybe testing the boundaries of the edge of the stage. Having said that, the simplicity of the delivery has left me with pictures of Mason’s trip in my head; this story will stay with me. 


At the end of the show Mason had women (including myself) thanking her for writing a piece like this. It’s a rare gift to be able to bring the darkest, most vulnerable parts of ourselves to the stage but a vital one. For me that is the point of theatre, taking the audience to places in themselves and shining a light there, giving permission for those feelings and letting them know they are not alone when managing motherhood and mental health. Mason’s last line says ‘I have my good days’, reassuring the audience that she and they can have the strength to visit Hollering Woman’s Creek and survive. 


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