By Austin Kaiser
“One Good Egg” is the story of Elaine Gale, a Midwestern woman who dreams of having a family. She longs to pack the kids’ lunches, pick them up from school, and tuck them in at night. After experiencing fertility issues, she and her husband become exhausted by the myriad of treatments, from expensive medical procedures to acupuncture. The ordeal causes friction in their marriage, and Ms. Gale struggles to accept circumstances she never bargained for.
Between scenes of hardship and conflict, there are lighthearted moments. The warm and energetic Ms. Gale is partial to egg puns and fun costumes. If you’ve ever wanted to conceive a child badly enough to consult a shaman, you’ll find a kindred spirit in Ms. Gale. The tonal shifts sometimes create whiplash; she might tell a funny anecdote, followed by a solemn music cue abruptly ushering in a sad or serious pronouncement. The show is eclectic – its jack‑of‑all‑trades style is at times serious, self‑deprecating and irreverent.
Ms. Gale has plenty of personality to give. We learn that she cries when it rains, when she sees roadkill, or watches a gum commercial. She tends to speak in lists, itemizing what she was nostalgic for after she moved (her old dog, bedroom, and neighbors), things she recently learned (how to avoid carbs, cook fish, and find discounted dog food), the side effects of a new fertility drug, goals she wants to accomplish, nicknames for sperm (nut butter, white sauce, sack juice), fertility treatments (Chinese medicine, an oatmeal bath, acupuncture, an aura reading), effects of cold weather (her thermometer broke, snot froze to her face, the car wouldn’t start, she dated a guy just for warmth), and sports metaphors indicating the unlikelihood of certain treatments (some were Hail Marys, half‑court shots, last‑ditch efforts, buzzer beaters, etc.). I appreciate this style of humor, though one vivid example is sometimes preferable to five.
When her husband has an affair, Ms. Gale puts a sticker on the other woman’s car that says, “I am a slut and a homewrecker.” Ms. Gale unfolded the three‑foot‑long sticker in front of the audience. Some in the audience gasped. Some laughed. Most were quiet, perhaps thinking that her husband, rather than this woman, was more at fault. Ms. Gale remarked that the woman, who already had children, interfered in her fertility plans. In another story, Ms. Gale makes fun of an old boss, who had two lazy eyes. Ms. Gale couldn’t tell whether she was the one being fired, or whether it was the girl next to her. Like the sticker, the joke felt somewhat harsh.
In one of my favorite anecdotes, Ms. Gale asks the cable guy for free cable; later, she tells a story about being paid to read the Bible aloud to a blind nun. These anecdotes hit the right tone, and show us her personality in the best light. She’s a hustler. Other scenes felt a bit problematic. At a convenience store late at night, Ms. Gale observes other customers: a bulimic girl, a pothead, a drug addict, and other shady characters, as if to say, we all have our problems. The anecdote seems to equate her struggles with infertility to drug addiction and mental illness; whether you find these struggles comparable is up to you.
Despite my gripes, I enjoyed this piece. It has moments of humor and whimsy, and its perspective is unique. Ms. Gale has gone through the struggle of infertility as much as anyone has. I was fascinated by her discussion of questionable infertility cures like oatmeal baths and ingesting honey pollen. Such struggles are common, and artists like Ms. Gale should be praised for making art and generating mainstream culture and conversation about infertility. I hope people will see her performance and learn from it.
“ONE GOOD EGG: It Will Crack You Up and Crack You Open!”
Written and Performed by Elaine Gale
Oct. 19 at 9pm, Oct. 20 at 2pm
Directed by Julie Fishell
Stage Manager: Tyler X. Koontz
Show Image by Rod Lathim
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
AUSTIN KAISER is a writer with an expertise in art and the creative process. His writing is about improving your imagination and exercising your empathy muscle. Kaiser is currently writing a book called, “100 Questions Every Artist Should Have The Answers To.” His other book, “How To Go Viral & Put Wings On Ideas: A Book For Content Creators & Young Artists,” explains how ideas travel and which ideas travel best. More at www.medium.com/@KaiserMane.