With up to 1 in 5 pregnancies ending in miscarriage, and up to 1 in 3 Australian women having an abortion in their lifetime, we are all close to someone who has lost a pregnancy. Despite its prevalence, this issue remains a contentious taboo.
The team behind 19 Weeks aims to change that – and to help these women to feel less alone.
Set in the basement pool of Adina Treasury, the small audience gathers in the courtyard and is led down through the tunnels. Greeted by a woman dressed in a red bathing suit, we are invited to take off our shoes and sit with our toes dipped into the water (although bench seating is available). The woman joins us, and shares her very personal story of terminating a pregnancy at nineteen weeks after her baby is diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
An autobiographical piece from lauded local playwright Emily Steel, the script pulses with emotional energy. Unfalteringly honest, Steel takes you by the hand and dares to lead you along an uncomfortable road that few have shone a light on. Steel doesn’t try to preach, explain or apologise. She simply lays bare her own story.
Tiffany Lyndall Knight’s powerhouse performance as Emily is flawless. She handles the vulnerable moments with grace, and flows between characters and accents with ease. The symbiosis Knight achieves with script and set leaves you in no doubt that this is her story. We feel her struggle, her tears, the difficulty of the gut-wrenching decisions.
Every aspect of the production is exceptional. It hits each note perfectly – the use of space and light in the basement pool setting, the well-selected and well-timed soundtrack, and the naturalistic use of sparse, impactful props.
The close working relationship between writer Steel and director Daisy Brown is evident. The detail-rich and emotionally-charged script is balanced perfectly with its clean and comforting production.
When it’s all over, and the long-lasting applause settles down, Knight invites the audience to join the team in the bar for a drink and a chat. To share our own stories, if we want to. We wipe away tears, and hug each other. We’re not alone any more.
Without doubt, this is the best show I've seen this year. It is utterly exceptional, imperative work.
With a completely sold out season, we understand that the team is trying to fit in extra seats or performances, and is seeking expressions of interest on firstname.lastname@example.org. At any rate, we are confident that 19 Weeks will achieve widespread success, and hope it will return to Adelaide audiences next year.