Theatre review: Lotus Root Support Group, an empowering tale of femininity, illness and identity

PHOTO: Facebook/Lotus Root Support Group

March is the month of International Women’s Day, and bringing awareness to uniquely feminine issues is TheatreWorks with Lotus Root Support Group – a tale about the hidden struggle of identity tightly wound around the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (Pcos).

A condition where ovaries produce irregular amounts of male sex hormones, symptoms of Pcos include irregular and extremely painful periods, excess body hair, male pattern balding, and infertility. Enter the titular Lotus Root Support Group, created for women diagnosed with Pcos.

PHOTO: Facebook/Lotus Root Support Group

The play opens at an unofficial Lotus Root Support Group meeting where Jane preaches the need to increase support for women with Pcos. Xin Yi, the only member of the group that Jane invited, insists that Jane instead confront what was truly bothering her – the fear that her boyfriend Colin will leave her when he learns of Jane’s Pcos diagnosis and her near-impossible chances of bearing children.

Jane hadn’t batted an eyelid when she was diagnosed with Pcos because she had the ideal Singaporean life – spectacular grades in school followed by a well-paying job at a financial technology firm, and she even got the man. That was, until her Pcos symptoms caught up to her.

When her life inevitably cracks under the pressure of her symptoms and she loses her job and partner in one fell swoop, Jane goes on a journey to cure herself of her largest adversary yet – Pcos. In this comedy-drama, discover what it means to lose your sense of self to something out of your control. Dive head-first into the complexities of femininity, empowerment and the baffling subject of chronic illnesses through a lo-fi rap about potatoes, sexy dance class and a Multi-Level-Marketing scheme.

PHOTO: Facebook/Lotus Root Support Group

Staged in-person from March 3 to March 6, 2022 at the TheatreWorks Gallery, the impeccable comedic timing in Lotus Root Support Group in no way sanitises the struggles of women living with Pcos. Renee Cheong’s direction of two-woman cast Miriam Cheong and Shannen Tan weaves a nuanced tale through witty dialogue, innovative set design and intimate stage lighting that provide the audience insight into the characters’ most vulnerable moments.

Tan, who also independently produced the play,  is captivating in her painfully human portrayal of Jane and how she coped with losing the perfect life she once had, taking us on a journey through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Opposite her is Cheong’s Xin Yi, a management consultant secure in her identity and sensuality despite her own Pcos diagnosis, stealing the show with her confidence and no-nonsense attitude.

Miriam Cheong and Shannen Tan devised the Lotus Root Support Group to shine a gripping, empathetic spotlight on the hidden struggles of those with Pcos. Educational, hilarious and gut-wrenchingly sincere, Lotus Root Support Group is a must watch.

Lotus Root Support Group ran March 3 to 6, 2022 at T:>Works Gallery. Look out for updates on the digital release of Lotus Root Support Group later this month via Facebook.

Lotus Root Support Group contains references to eating disorders, body dysmorphia, disordered eating language and dietary talk.

This article was first published in citynomads.