New in Australian contemporary theatre, this play by Vanessa Bates is about two couples trying to conceive, each dealing with the frustrations and indignities of the process in a constant strain against time.
Tim and Meg, played by Simon Corfield and Julia Ohannessian, are going the natural route. Meg has consulted Chinese medicine and a fertility goddess statuette, and has cut their diet to food solely for improving conception, while Tim half-heartedly follows.
Bill and Jen, played by Glenn Hazeldine and Georgina Symes, are a slightly older couple taking the road of IVF, dealing with the more invasive injections and procedures that come with the science of making a baby.
The two couples meet occasionally at a lake (a “man-made, yes, but beautiful” lake) where their private lives reach contact with the outside world -a strange meeting between themselves and artificial nature where they encounter lost toddlers and attempt to keep a hold of their intimate problems in a quiet and beautiful environment of life.
In the background of the story lingers news of a hit-and-run incident of a woman walking her pram, interjecting the play with further unease and loss.
The play is at times hilarious and at times sad, constantly playing out the bitter sufferings of each couple with simple and effective dialogue. Relationships suffer, and amidst the questions of getting a dog, an affair, and whether their partnerships will survive without a baby, the set (designed by Andy McDonell) supports the intimate dealings of the play and its differing levels of action. It is a spiralling circular platform, almost like a cross-section look of a DNA strand, bringing the small cast into a suitably tight space within the stage and curiously complementing every change of scene.
The actors, directed by Shannon Murphy, put Bates’ play to life with excellent sensitivity and strong performances, and even the comedy of the play (at times outrageously funny) is delivered with honesty.
From sperm tests to self-injections in the office (and featuring a sperm movement piece with actors as white swimmers racing for the egg), this production dives straight into the messy and undignified parts of the conception process. It shows this modern dilemma of conception in entertaining and poignant light while exploring the struggle to create new life.
Every Second is currently playing at Darlinghurst Theatre until 27th July.
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