At the heart of this emotional two-hander is the dark fear that no hopeful prospective parent ever wants to face: that their beautiful, bouncing baby might be born deformed, sick, suffering or even not at all. What would you do? What should you do? And is there even such a thing as a right or wrong decision in such an impossible situation?
The play shifts backwards and forwards in time, from a happy game of Scrabble the night before a terrible diagnosis through increasing fraught scenes of distress and breakdown, interspersing the narrative with real-life accounts of men and women who have had to face the same decisions as this fictional couple.
In one wry scene, David optimistically flags up a blog written by the parent of a disabled child, all funny anecdotes and cute photos. But, as Jenni is quick to point out, the perfect view portrayed for the public could be very different from the crushing day-to-day reality of dealing with an ‘imperfect’ child. In turn, Jenni falls prey to a snake-oil seller whose magic lotion promises to heal her broken baby with just a pea sized blob rubbed daily onto her growing belly.
It’s never made clear exactly what the problem with Jenni and David’s baby is. This was a deliberate choice by the writer and director, Judy Alfereti and Euan Tyre, forcing us to think about the wider picture, rather than focusing on the specifics of statistics, risks and outcomes for any given condition. Rather, what is played out is the shifts in the relationships between man, woman and growing fetus. David changes from loving partner to determined father, coming to see Jenni as little more than the incubator for ‘his baby’. The term ‘expecting’ is absolutely true when it comes to having a baby – a word full of hope, tinged with fear. Sadly for this couple, the weight of these expectations ends up crushing them completely. (KA)
In Utero is on at 15.10 theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall on 12th-13th, 15th-20th and 22nd-27th August. Wheelchair Access, Level Access, Wheelchair Accessible Toilets - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/in-utero
Fonmanu Creative: https://fonmanucreative.com/
Making Miracles helps families and funds research into high risk pregnancy: http://makingmiracles.org.uk/
Kicks Count informs pregnant women of the facts and importance of their baby’s movement in the womb: http://www.kickscount.org.uk/about/about-us/working-to-prevent-stillbirth/
Hughes Syndrome Foundation focuses on the complications before and after miscarriages:
Down Syndrome Scotland helps families explore the joys and challenges of raising children with the condition: http://www.dsscotland.org.uk/new-parents/your-pregnancy/our-view/