24 October 2016 | 11:26 am | Fiona Cameron

Secret women's business writ large in this inventive and brilliantly crafted production

E-Baby is a very rare theatrical beast: a two-handed play by women, starring women and about issues that affect women viscerally. Indeed, another such production doesn't readily spring to mind.

This play offers great writing by Jane Cafarella, brought to life by two powerhouse actresses, Danielle Carter and Gabrielle Scawthorn, led by another outstanding woman, director Nadia Tass. And the men in the characters' lives, well, they were so peripheral as to be almost incidental

This is a play about hope and trust and how two women who would otherwise never have crossed paths are connected by a surrogate pregnancy.

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Each character is finely drawn, three-dimensional and fully realised, right down to the handbags and accessories. Catherine, portrayed by Carter, is a globe-travelling lawyer who presents as a classic type-A personality; ambitious, driven and used to ensuring she gets what she wants thanks to organisation, preparation and determination. So when it comes to having children and finding nature uncooperative, the tools she relies on in every other aspect of her life come into play here too.

Nellie, played by Scawthorn with a flawless accent, is a working class, Boston Irish catholic mother-of-two, who wants to be a part of something bigger by bringing the joy of family life to those who might be almost out of options.

These women are big personalities in their own right, contrast well and, despite their differences, forge a strong connection.

Tobhiyah Stone Feller's simple staging, with a few square stools that double as seats and shelves for laptops, features video projections used to great effect to show a linking image of a CGI graphic that reveals its true nature over the course of the show, as well as the character's Skype conversations and pre-recorded vlogs. This is particularly effective in a theatrical setting where the facial expressions of the actresses are seen up close and personal.

Occasionally the tone lifts with moments of genuine humour; at the close of particularly poignant moments, a chorus of sniffs resounded through the house. We, the audience, invested in these characters and the story unfolding before us, with the tension ratcheting up almost imperceptibly as we waited to see how it would end.

Ensemble Theatre presents E-Baby until 13 Nov