Jasmine Batchelor plays Jess, a young surrogate mother to her best male friends Josh (Chris Perfetti) and Aaron (Sullivan Jones). After the first trimester, a prenatal test reveals the child has an extra chromosome. All three parents engage with the realities of raising a child with Down’s syndrome, but a gulf develops between them, despite Jess’s enthusiasm for the pregnancy to continue.
The narrative gives way to issues that feel as true to life as a documentary, largely due to the pinpoint-accurate script. Hersh has a deft ear for realistic dialogue so the audience remains fully engrossed throughout. The topics covered in the piece include race, gender, sexual orientation, disability rights and abortion and are all tackled with a sensitivity that allows viewers to empathise with the dilemma and perspective of each character.
To complement the script, the cast members are experienced with stage-acting and perfectly evoke empathy by capturing the bristling tension that simmers in the domestic settings where much of the action is captured. This sense of compassion extends to many, however Batchelor’s performance is the most captivating. She portrays a sanguine demeanour even while Jess is facing a mixture of distant and ethically opposed characters, which makes the audience feel nothing short of admiration for her. It is no surprise that the ordeal of contradictory conflict with those closest to her causes her to break down and, heart-wrenchingly, make a decision that ultimately severs all ties with her former best friends.
It is a testament to the writing, direction and acting that, despite its emotive conclusion, all characters are presented in the narrative with such tender sensitivity, humanity and objectivity. If Hersh continues in this vein, audiences will no doubt wait with relish and hope that his future work is just as engaging.
The Surrogate is released nationwide on 9th July 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Surrogate here: