by Dora Bodrogi
What if two women could make a baby without any sperm donors?
This is the central question of this play by Lauren Gibson. It sounds like the premise of a Black Mirror episode – and it would make a great one if based on this play – in which we explore the moral and emotional dilemmas of an equally promising and dystopian scientific advancement could cause.
After all, wouldn’t it be amazing if two mothers could have a child that carried both their genes, and only theirs? It would mean liberation from having to include a man in the equation, or at least a little cup he leaves behind at a clinic, anonymously or not. However, where does this newfound power over the child’s features end? At the number of toes they will have? The colour of their eyes? The colour of their skin?
We meet Jim and Sigrid, a lesbian couple with a dynamic so charming you can’t help rooting for them from the first moment. Their issues arise from clashing views on parenthood and what makes a family: Jim, a scientist working on egg-only babies, insists on the significance of genetics and sees adoption or sperm donation as “raising someone else’s child”. Her partner struggles with the futuristic concept of perfectly engineered humans, harassment by homophobic protesters, and the idea of parenthood itself. As anxieties unique to same-sex parents are explored in a new light, this test-tube baby will test the women’s love above all.
Keagan Carr Fransch (Jim) and Lauren Gibson (Sigrid) tell us a gripping, endearing, and thought-provoking story. The dialogue is vibrant and witty. Added to this, the characters’ respective monologues addressing their baby-in-making are heartfelt and well-placed within the narrative. The scene changes need more finesse at times, but the decision to jump back and forth in time between pivotal moments in the couple’s relationship from first dates to final struggles is an excellent and affecting one.
Is it blood that matters above all when it comes to family? Or is family one you choose and make regardless of any genetic connection? And what if we no longer had to be longing for something that’s possible?
Be Longing runs through 8 February.
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