Written and performed by Alice Underwood, and directed by Izzy Carney, Don’t Ask Don’t Get, Baby focuses on what happens if you are a “Donor Conceived Person? Honestly I think I prefer Test Tube Baby”.
The first baby to be conceived this way was born in Oldham (my home town) in 1978. In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) was developed by Robert G Edwards, Patrick Steptoe, and Jean Purdy; their work was recognised in part by the 2010 award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Edwards, the only surviving member of the trio.
Alice (we are very informal in this show, so character and actor are named the same) finds out she is a “test tube baby” as a child. Her father was on the donor register, her mother – who donated her eggs – opted to remain anonymous indefinitely.
This play is a light-hearted one-woman show which plays with very serious topics – a school biology lesson proves very uncomfortable in its simplistic look at conception and birth; a nature vs nurture debate sparks some questions which are too intrusive for Alice to deal with.
It is true that many of us do favour our biological parents in our looks and habits, but many do not. Alice recounts her mother (the woman who gave birth to her) jokingly complaining about “ordering a brunette who was smart – there must have been a mistake”.
Although she does wonder about where she came from, the play’s touching ending proves there can be a close connection even when no biology or DNA is shared.
The set and costumes are minimal, but it is always clear where we are, and when. Off-stage recorded voices bring other characters to life from Alice’s mother to her classmates. Alice herself appears first as a curious and scared little girl but we watch her confidence and acceptance grow as she assesses her difference to others as a “superpower”.
Although primarily a warm comedy, Don’t Ask Don’t Get, Baby raises a lot of questions about the processes by which medical science changes the natural aspects of conception and childbirth. At just 45 minutes, this is a strong one-act piece which is tightly written and economically performed.
You can watch Don’t Ask Don’t Get, Baby on demand until 7 August – book here (£10).
LouReviews received complimentary access to review Don’t Ask Don’t Get, Baby.