First 'test tube baby' story takes centre stage in Bristol

Tom Felton holding script during rehearsal of A Child of ScienceImage source, HELEN MURRAY
Image caption,

Tom Felton is playing Professor Sir Bob Edwards in A Child of Science

  • Published

A play about the creation of IVF will have its world premiere this week.

A Child of Science at Bristol Old Vic tells the story of Louise Brown, from the city, the world's first "test tube baby".

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

The play has been written by Gareth Farr and is directed by Matthew Dunster. The cast includes Tom Felton, Jamie Glover, Meg Bellamy, Adelle Leonce and Sonoya Mizuno.

Image caption,

Professor Sir Robert (Bob) Edwards played a leading role in the birth of Louise Brown in 1978

Louise Brown's birth "changed the world forever", proving that being infertile was no longer a barrier to having a child.

Lesley Brown made history in July 1978 when her daughter was born at Oldham General Hospital.

Mrs Brown and her husband John had been trying for a baby for nine years before she became the first woman to give birth following IVF treatment.

That procedure has since supported the birth of more 12 million babies worldwide in the past 45 years.

Although other women were implanted with fertilised eggs, Mrs Brown was the first to achieve a pregnancy that went beyond a few weeks.

A spokesperson for Bristol Old Vic said the play is "about determination, dreams, hope, and courage. It’s a celebration of life".

Image source, HELEN MURRAY
Image caption,

Jamie Glover is playing Patrick Steptoe and Sonoya Mizuno plays Lillian Lincoln Howell among other characters

Based on research and interviews with embryologists and fertility doctors, the play captures the lives of those who have been affected by the IVF breakthrough.

A Child of Science, which will open on Wednesday, features characters inspired by real-life individuals, and some entirely imagined by the writer.

As part of the production, a choir was also put together to record music used throughout the play - and every choir member has a connection to fertility treatments.

The play will be performed at the Bristol Old Vic until Saturday 6 July.