Mine, performed by a new young theatre company, Who Said Theatre, is actor-playwright Georgia Taylforth's first play. While mainly light-hearted on the surface, it deals with some deep issues raised by pregnancy, particularly those of ownership and identity. Can we ever say that we own anyone, even our children?
The premise of the one-act play is simple. Six actors play three couples, each moving into and through a pregnancy, with scenes alternating between each couple. We meet Sophie and her date, Ben; Emma and her fiance, Chris; and gay Toby and his best friend, Lauren. Toby is desperate to become a dad but is turned down by adoption agencies, and Lauren agrees to carry his child as a surrogate. In contrast, pregnancy sneaks up on the other two couples while they are completely unprepared. Sophie and Ben are not even ready for coupledom, let alone parenthood: "Ben, I don't want a child right now... I can't have a child right now."
The stage is bare, featuring little more than a comfortable sofa - a place of refuge and occasionally conflict for all the couples - and, oddly, a long rope. In a series of short early scenes, parts of that rope stand in for the pregnancy testing kits that give each woman her positive result, triggering a wide variety of complex emotions. A little earlier we had seen Toby and Lauren brandish a home-made AI kit in the form of a turkey baster.
None of the stories were resolved completely satisfactorily, with each ending raising questions. Sophie's conviction that abortion is the only way out of her dilemma starts to waver and the audience is left wondering if she and Ben ever make it to the clinic. In the only violent scene of the play, Chris, deprived of sexual contact by a nauseous Emma, attacks his fiance, and that story too ends ambiguously in the wail of an ambulance siren.
And Toby and Lauren? Their pregnancy ends in the birth of a healthy boy, but with a question mark hanging over his relationship with his mum and dad - or will that be dad and 'Auntie Lauren'? But the play ends in hope. The last scene shows Toby tenderly, if gingerly, cradling his newborn son: "I'm your daddy.... You're mine." (CS)
Mine was performed at the Etcetera Theatre above the Oxford Arms in Camden High Street, London, from August 22-27 2016 as part of the Camden Fringe Festival.
Other performances: http://www.whosaidtheatre.com/#!mine/tiwj8
Who Said Theatre Company: http://www.whosaidtheatre.com/
Surrogacy UK, offering advice and support to anyone interested in surrogate motherhood:
Artificial insemination: the turkey baster method: http://www.babymed.com/home-artificial-insemination-get-pregnant-turkey-baster-method
Stonewall on LGBT parenting rights: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/parenting-rights
Riggs, D.W., Due, C. Gay fathers' reproductive journeys and parenting experiences: a review of research. J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. (2014) 40(4), 289-93. doi: 10.1136/jfprhc-2013-100670 (Abstract only free of charge)
"What to expect": Discussion forum on sex and lack of desire during pregnancy: