Saturday 10 December 2016

Mary Kenny: The drama of fertility

A new play sheds light on a couple's anguishing struggle with IVF

Published 19/06/2016 | 02:30

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

Fertility can be unpredictable. My mother married at 23, had a miscarriage at 25, a baby at 26, two more babies subsequently, and then (without recourse to contraception), 10 years of what she called "normal married life" without a pregnancy. Then, in her 40s, she surprisingly - and to her great annoyance - conceived again. That was me. My father was 67 and delighted. Ma could never figure out why she could go a decade without a pregnancy, and then it happens.

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The boffins are aiming to make fertility an exact science, so that those who do not want babies shall not have them, and those who do want babies shall have them. The focus has now switched from contraception to fertility. And the immense degree of human hope and striving that goes into achieving fertility is powerfully illuminated in a new play about a couple's struggles with IVF, The Quiet House, by Gareth Farr (currently playing to packed houses at London's Park Theatre).

Gareth Farr has drawn directly on his own experience in telling the story of Dylan and Jess, both 34, who are undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF), in an increasingly strained effort to have a baby. The emotions and the stress are acted out convincingly: belief, despair, conflict, pain, loss, and yes, drama.

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