Hip Shots: Mitzi’s Abortion


Remaining Performances:
Fri., July 20, 11:45 p.m.
Wed., July 25, 6 p.m.

Their Take: "Mitzi's pregnant and ready to start a family. When tragedy strikes she's left at the mercy of bureaucracy so absurd it could only be real. Elizabeth Heffron's uproarious and magical comedy explores the collision of politics, religion, family and biology."

Alex’s Take: I spent most of Mitzi’s Abortion holding back tears.

Mitzi’s 22 and pregnant. She works at Subway. At least she’s got health insurance, since her husband, whom she married shotgun-style, is in the army. At first she’s anxious about the baby; then she’s stoked, painting her apartment floor-to-ceiling yellow. She knows it’s a girl.

But this is a play about a late-term abortion—one Mitzi doesn’t want to have, and one her federally backed insurance company won’t let her have. Mitzi’s baby will essentially be born without a brain unless her pregnancy is induced. If it’s not, she’ll be carrying the nearly dead weight three months past term. But Mitzi's life isn’t in danger, so her insurance won’t cover the procedure. Yeah, it’s an abortion.

These facts are interspersed with absurdly conveyed doses of science and religion. Most outstanding is John C. Bailey as Thomas Aquinas, here a chaste saint who gets off by eating, working out, and crushing on Anderson Cooper. Aquinas is a comical, but comforting, moral compass and friend to Mitzi, whose on-again, off-again relationship with Catholicism is informed by the extreme life-begins-at-conception rhetoric that’s bandied about frequently these days. Unsurprising spoiler: Aquinas, the grandaddy of Catholic thought, doesn’t follow that party line.

The plot of Mitzi’s Abortion is so sufficient in its argument that it doesn’t necessarily need to be well-acted to drive a knife into your gut. But Washington Rogues' players shine, subtly infusing some much-needed humor into what might otherwise be an all-out sob story. Even better, they’re nimble in their seamless character transitions (all but Natalie Cutcher, as Mitzi, take on multiple roles).

The 90-minute performance does drag: What with all the other moral and philosophical knots to untangle, the random appearance from Mitzi’s pro-life uncle, myriad knockaround twists, and the entire character of Wreckless Mary (Louise Schlegel)—the ghost of a Scottish midwife and a pal of Aquinas’ who was burned at the stake in 1600-whatever—just lay it on way too thick.

So, why the waterworks? I’m 22, Mitzi’s age. I’ve had spats with my insurance company over what it will and won’t cover. And, most profoundly, I’m a woman in 2012, when the right to do what I want with my body, when I want, is under siege in local and national arenas. Mitzi’s Abortion elucidates my greatest fear: that political bullshit will render my personal choices far more difficult than they already are.

See It If: You aren’t convinced—or you forgot—why abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

Skip It If: You don’t need the reminder.