The Quiet House at Park Theatre
After an award-winning debut, playwright Gareth Farr brings to the stage a personal piece on a subject that is rarely discussed in the arts. Jess and Dylan are married, they have good jobs and are now trying for a baby. Unable to conceive, they resort to IVF treatment and their lives gradually turn upside down. The decision to have a baby, which they always imagined would be a straightforward step, becomes an odyssey of sacrifices and daily struggles.
The experience is portrayed as nothing short of an emotional tornado that puts a strain on every aspect of the couple’s life. Their work is disrupted due to the necessity of adhering to scheduled tests and injections, their sex life inevitably suffers, their finances are affected and of course there is the psychological impact that puts their feelings for one another to the test. Drawing from personal experience, Farr depicts a completely authentic picture of the day-to-day reality of the process.
Michelle Bonnard and Oliver Lansley are very engaging as the suffering couple and are progressively more convincing as they get deeper into the drama. The dynamic between them becomes highly intense and their performances are truly touching. Allyson Ava-Brown and Tom Walker, who play a neighbour and Dylan’s boss respectively, are very strong in their supporting roles and add the necessary spice to the action. The stage is transformed into a modern studio flat with a desk on one side acting as Dylan’s office. While the setting is intimate, the space is completely open, giving the impression that the walls have been knocked down, in every sense of the word, to give a naked view of the deeply personal story.
The drama is balanced in its depiction of the two different viewpoints: Jess aches with the longing for motherhood and talks out loud to her future baby, Dylan drifts along as he attempts to dodge pressing career demands and is exasperated by his passive role in the conception process. Infertility affects one in six couples, and yet alternative routes to IVF are still a taboo subject. Unless the outcome is successful, the fear of stigma deters couples from speaking about it openly, and the play wants to shake up this attitude.
The Quiet House is not about happy endings or unsuccessful attempts. It’s above all a story of the power of commitment – commitment to the other, and to a joint life project. Regardless of the outcome, the play shows that there is courage in trying, in persevering, in sticking to something, and that this kind of strength in itself deserves admiration.
The Quiet House is on at Park Theatre from 7th June until 9th July 2016, for further information or to book visit here.