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A Child of Science - Bristol Old Vic REVIEW

Over 10 million babies have been born as a result of IVF and the work of three incredible individuals. Over 10 million moments of joy for those who thought all hopes of having a family was lost. A Child of Science not only tells the incredible story of how these facts

exactly came to be but also brings vital recognition to three people who many would never have heard of - Robert Edwards, Patrick Steptoe and Jean Purdy.

With Tom Felton being the biggest name and still relatively new to the stage, all eyes were on him. All the cast did a stellar job but it commanding Jamie Glover (Waterloo Road) and fiery Meg Bellamy (The Crown) who were the stars for me. Their presence and passion were both palpable.

A special mention must go to Huddersfield housewife Margaret (powerfully performed by Adelle Leonce) or Patient 38 as we come to know her, who took part in IVF trials for 10 years without success. Leonce’s portrayal of a desperate mother was truly heartbreaking to watch.

The pace is enjoyably nippy but still lingers on moments of poignance with care and grace. The direction by Matthew Dunster does a brilliant job of bringing the light within the dark and balancing so many disheartening tales of endless failure for hopeful mothers with the possibility of success. Harrowing moments where we witness women who have been given abortions by their local butchers are contrasted with banter between scientists in a lab – each moment as carefully crafted as the last.

I did feel the use of female singers accompanied by their faces projected onto the set a little distracting and directionless but it made for smooth transitions between scenes which spanned the two decades of research.

Gareth Farr’s writing not only fully develops characters that you quickly feel sympathy for but forcefully drives home the turmoil everyone is going through – whether that’s the scientists or the hopeful parents.

Little did I know, it wasn’t until we left the auditorium I discovered that the  woman who was sat next to me was Louise Brown herself, the first IVF baby. “That was very surreal” she exclaimed as a representation of her (the first IVF baby) was held high in triumph during the final moments of the play.

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