Emma Fielding and Katy Stephens star in the world premiere of Maud Dromgoole’s Mary’s Babies, playing dozens of character who may all – unknowingly – be related. The premiere production, directed by A Hundred Words for Snow author Tatty Hennessy, runs at Jermyn Street Theatre from 20 March to 13 April, with a press night on 22 March. Time to get booking!
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’, with 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. Provocative, comic, and compelling, Maud Dromgoole‘s new play imagines a series of encounters between these unknowing half-siblings.
The play 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 Jermyn Street run will include two post-show Q&As, on 27 March and 10 April, focused on the issues raised.
Mary’s Babies reunites playwright Maud Dromgoole and director Tatty Hennessy after their 2016 success with another two-hander, Dromgoole’s “hilarious, creative and beautiful” (LondonTheatre1) and “laugh-out-loud funny” (West End Wilma) play Acorn, at the Courtyard Theatre. A co-production with Oak Theatre, Mary’s Babies has set and costume by Anna Reid, lighting by Jai Morjaria, sound by Yvonne Gilbert and casting by Matilda James.
Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This work has not been authorised by the estates of Mary Barton or Bertold Wiesner or any of their beneficiaries, family members, relatives or other representatives.
Part of Jermyn Street’s Portrait Season, celebrating the venue’s 25th birthday as an independent theatre in the heart of the West End, Mary’s Babies follows the stage premiere of Rose Heiney’s Original Death Rabbit (9 January-9 February) and Trevor Nunn’s world premiere production of Harley Granville Barker‘s Agnes Colander: An Attempt at Life, revised by Richard Nelson (12 February-16 March).
Following Mary’s Babies, the season, programmed by artistic director Tom Littler, continues through to this summer with: Howard Brenton’s return adaptation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie running alongside a new adaptation of Strindberg’s Creditors (25 April to 1 June), and then Pictures Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde in a gender-flipped adaptation by Lucy Shaw (5 June to 6 July).
Mary’s Babies runs from 20 March to 13 April 2019 at Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST, with performances Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Saturday matinees at 3.30pm. Tickets are priced £10-£30. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Emma Fielding’s roles at The RSC include Imogen in Cymbeline, Isabella in Measure for Measure and Lady Teazle in The School For Scandal. She has recently starred as Mrs Allonby in A Woman of No Importance in the West End . Other roles include Lady Macbeth in John Cairds production of Macbeth at The Almedia, Hesione Hushabye in Heartbeak House at Chichester Theatre and Sybil in Private Lives in the West End and on Broadway. Emma’s Olivier Award nominations include Best Supporting Performance in School For Scandal and Best Actress in A Supporting Role for Private Lives. In 1993 she was awarded The Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Newcomer for her performances in Arcadia and The School for Wives.
Katy Stephens’ extensive work for the Royal Shakespeare Company includes Rosalind in As You Like It, Tamora in Titus Andronicus, Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Regan in King Lear, Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew, Sarah in Mark Ravenhill’s Candide, and Joan of Arc/Margaret of Anjou in Michael Boyd’s Histories Cycle. Work for Shakespeare’s Globe includes Clytemnestra in The Oresteia, Calpurnia in Julius Caesar and Iras in Antony and Cleopatra. Katy’s awards include the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actress in 2009 for the RSC’s Histories Cycle as well as being part of the team that won the Olivier Award for Best Ensemble Performance for the same show.
Maud Dromgoole’s previous collaboration with director Tatty Hennessy include the critically acclaimed and Offienominated Acorn at the Courtyard Theatre. Exeunt Magazine commented that: ‘Dromgoole’s script unfurls expertly … an indication of great things to come from an exciting team of young and irrepressible female artists.’ Maud’s other theatre writing includes: Rosa, Ursula and Richard (Finalist Mercury Wienberger Prize), Sleeping Beauty (Bunker Theatre), Blue Moon (Bread and Rose’s, Courtyard & Arcola), Milk (Bunker & Hackney
Attic), Cake (Cockpit & Tristan Bates) and Selkie (Southwark Playhouse). Her 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, passionate about new work. Her previous directing work includes As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare in the Squares), Acorn (Courtyard), All That Lives (Ovalhouse), Julius Caesar (LAMDA), Connected (Bunker). She 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. Tatty was appointed the Baylis Assistant Director role to assist Max Webster on Fanny and Alexander at the Old Vic in spring 2018.
Hennessy’s own play A Hundred Words for Snow won the Heretic Voices Award for monologue drama and transferred this month to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios, where it runs until 30 March 2019.