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Mary’s Babies - Jermyn Street Theatre

Mary’s Babies

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MARY’S Babies, by Maud Dromgoole, receives its world premiere at Jermyn Street Theatre. Part of the Portrait Season, it runs from Wednesday, March 20 to Saturday, April 13, 2019.

Mary Barton, a pioneer of fertility treatment, thought her husband was perfect. And doesn’t every child deserve the perfect father? So Mary used her husband’s sperm to impregnate up to a thousand women, and then burnt all the records.

A thousand resulting children, the ‘Barton Brood’, have no idea about their shared father. Meeting each other. Making friends. Having babies.

Mary’s Babies is a fictional tale inspired by the true story of Mary Barton and the Barton Brood, researched through surveys and interviews. Provocative, comic, and compelling, Maud Dromgoole’s new play imagines a series of encounters between these unknowing half-siblings.

Mary’s Babies was researched with the advice of the Donor Conception Network, interviews with the Barton Brood and a survey of over 200 respondents, identifying varying attitudes towards genetics, family and donor conception. Posing questions around what conception, fertility and family mean in the modern world, the run will include two post-show Q&As on March 27 and April 10 focused on the issues raised. These are:

March 27. Pride Angel sponsors this Q&A focused on the modern landscape of donor conception and the experiences of donors, recipients and donor conceived people. This will include Nina Barnsley, director of the Donor Conception Network, Charles Lister, Chair of the Sperm, Egg And Embryo Donation Trust and Mary’s Babies playwright Maud Dromgoole.

April 10: A chance to hear from members of the Mary’s Babies creative team and Nina Barnsley from the Donor Conception Network to discuss responding to the social issues that arise when portraying donor conception on stage.

A special rate of £10 tickets will be available for donor-conceived persons.

Mary’s Babies is directed by Tatty Hennessy and has set and costume design by Anna Reid, lighting by Jai Morjaria and sound by Yvonne Gilbert.

Maud Dromgoole’s previous collaboration with director Tatty Hennessy include the critically acclaimed and Offie-nominated Acorn at the Courtyard Theatre. Her other theatre writing includes: Rosa, Ursula and Richard (Finalist Mercury Wienberger Prize), Sleeping Beauty (The Bunker), Blue Moon (Bread and Rose’s/The Courtyard/The Arcola), Milk (The Bunker/Hackney Attic), Cake (The Cockpit/Tristan Bates Theatre), and Selkie (Southwark Playhouse).

Dromgoole’s sitcom Acting Up was shortlisted for BBC Writersroom Comedy Script Room and she is currently working on a new play for BBC Radio 4.

Tatty Hennessy is an award-winning playwright, dramaturg and director. Her previous work includes As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare in the Squares), Acorn (The Courtyard), All That Lives (Ovalhouse), Julius Caesar (LAMDA), and Connected (The Bunker). She has assisted Adele Thomas on The Oresteia (Shakespeare’s Globe) and on Dominic Dromgoole’s world tour production of Hamlet which visited every country in the world.

Hennessy was appointed the Baylis Assistant Director role to assist Max Webster on Fanny and Alexander at the Old Vic in spring 2018. Her play A Hundred Words for Snow won the Heretic Voices Award for monologue drama and is transferring to the Trafalgar Studios in Spring 2019.

Tickets: £10 – £30. To book, call the box office on 0207 287 2875 or visit www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Monday to Saturday evenings at 7:30pm, with matinees at 3.30pm on Saturdays.

Running time: Around 90 minutes.

Also at Jermyn Street Theatre: Trevor Nunn’s production of Harley Ganville-Barker’s Agnes Colander (February 12 to March 16, 2019).