Most of us will be familiar with the term IVF as a process used for the conception of a baby. But few of us are familiar with what the actual reality of that term entails. The latest play by Bruntwood Prize winner, Gareth Farr, follows one couple’s journey on the roller-coster ride of pain, humour, anguish and strength that can lie behind the realities of this procedure.
The conversations surrounding IVF are often practical or scientific, but A Quiet House explores and exhibits the challenging and complex emotions that one couple go through in their hope of becoming parents. There are no hospital rooms, no charts, and no actors in white doctor coats. We watch the characters at home or at work; places where they are desperately trying to carry out their day-to-day tasks while battling their inner turmoil.
The intensity of the dialogue is broken up by honest and unapologetic humour, which is needed to balance against the exceptionally heavy subject matter. It is beautifully directed by Tessa Walker; each scene seamlessly slides into the next and there are subtle moments of imitate movement that wonderfully enhances a sense of passion in the overall piece.
Michelle Bonnard and Oliver Lansley play couple Jess and Dylan, who decide to embark on their first round of IVF. The shear amount of emotional complexity displayed by both actors is incredible. They each seem to generate an almost erratic temperament in their delivery and create two spontaneous and unpredictable characters each battling to come to terms with their intricate array of feelings. The love and the hope are what keep this couple going. Bonnard and Lansley present such human and real characters to us that we are able to invest in them quickly and fully. They are two sincerely powerful and moving performances.
Allyson Ava-Brown plays neighbour and mother to a newborn Kim, and Tom Walker plays Dylan’s boss Tony. Ava-Brown bursts onto stage with enormous, youthful, energy. She is playful and instinctive in her choices but with a real sense of humility to her work. Walker is humorous and dynamic as the ever-enthusiastic boss and friend to Dylan. It is an incredibly strong cast of four, who all bring the play to life with honesty and conviction.
Watching A Quiet House is like being a fly on the wall during the most intimate and private moments of a couple’s life and what an isolating place it can potentially be. It is just so human.
A Quiet House is playing the Park Theatre until 9 July. For more information and tickets, see
The Park Theatre website.
Photo: Graeme Braidwood