Moving performance in world premiere of play about the years before IVF

MOVING PORTRAYA: Adelle Leonce in A Child of Science. PICTURE by Helen MurrayMOVING PORTRAYA: Adelle Leonce in A Child of Science. PICTURE by Helen Murray
MOVING PORTRAYA: Adelle Leonce in A Child of Science. PICTURE by Helen Murray
A ROTHERHAM actress has been praised for her moving portrayal of a woman desperate to conceive a baby in the years before IVF.

Adelle Leonce performs a key role in A Child of Science, a play about the creation of the laboratory process fertilisation, which had its world premiere last week.

The two-and-a-half-hour production, currently on stage until July 7 at the Bristol Old Vic, is a hard-hitting look at what life was like for women who couldn’t become mums four decades ago.

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In real life, back in 1978, Lesley Brown gave birth to her daughter Louise with the help of Professor Sir Robert Edwards, his colleague Dr Patrick Steptoe, and nurse Jean Purdy.

HARD-HITTING PRODUCTION: Adelle Leonce in A Child of Science. PICTURE by Helen MurrayHARD-HITTING PRODUCTION: Adelle Leonce in A Child of Science. PICTURE by Helen Murray
HARD-HITTING PRODUCTION: Adelle Leonce in A Child of Science. PICTURE by Helen Murray

The trio of medical pathfinders became the first people in history to create human life outside the womb. Louise's birth proved that being infertile was no longer a barrier to having a child.

The drama pays tribute to the hundreds of ‘guinea pig’ women who volunteered to develop IVF.

In the last 45 years it has led to 12 million births to infertile couples.

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Bristol Old Vic said the play is “about determination, dreams, hope, and courage. It’s a celebration of life”.

Adelle, once of the Stag and Whiston areas, plays the role of Margaret, a fictional character inspired by real-life individuals, who along with her husband were struggling to conceive, a problem haunting many couples before the arrival of the world’s first “test tube baby”.

The Guardian gushed with praise about the former Herringthorpe Junior and Infant School pupil’s contribution in the script.

It said: “Huddersfield housewife Margaret (superlatively performed by Adelle Leonce), who has taken part in the trials and is otherwise known as Patient 38, is given unwelcome news.

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“But it is received with such heroic grace that many in the audience were moved to tears.

“This is a play that sensitively deals with what is clearly an emotive and important subject for many.”

The Morning Star added: “Adelle Leonce’s strong and passionate performance as patient 38, unsuccessfully putting herself through ten rounds of exploratory treatment and heart-wrenching loss in pursuit of a child, is a telling reminder of the 281 anonymous and unsung women whose loyal commitment to the programme made IVF possible.”

A WhatsonStage web page points out 34-year-old Adelle: “Is terrific in the role, showing the character’s bounce and flirtatious bonhomie early on as we see how she and her husband meet and decide to have kids and her eventual desperation for the child that hasn’t arrived, a ticking clock reminding her of time running out.”

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The influential Stage media outlet called Adelle’s performance a “much-needed personal perspective”.

Adelle comes from an entertainment background. Her grandmother Joan Cowley, was well known in Rotherham as a singer/soprano at the Civic Theatre and was also in South Yorkshire opera.

Her mum Allison also trod the boards with Wickersley Musical Theatre Company,

She took her NCQ in drama at Oakwood Academy.

*Show details are available from the box office: 0117 987 7877, bristololdvic.org.uk

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