19 weeks is not a play about abortion. It’s not even really a play about an abortion – it’s about Emily Steel; a playwright, partner and mother.
The story begins when she discovers that she’s pregnant with her second child at 38. Later, she finds out that her unborn baby has Down syndrome and decides to have an abortion.
Knowing how it ends doesn’t in any way lessen the impact of the one-woman show, performed by Tiffany Lyndall Knight with devastating intimacy. Her conversational delivery is eminently relatable and we are privy to intimate moments, mundane details and heartbreaking revelations. The script is sprinkled with flashes of humour, and even though we know the story is not personally hers, she embodies it entirely.
Steel’s autobiographical script is frank and emotionally honest: it doesn’t browbeat, but encourages empathy and emphasises the right of every woman to make decisions about her own body and life. Knight is just metres away for the majority of the performance, and the inventive staging in and around a hotel pool vividly captures a woman who is at times overwhelmed and alone.
If there’s an overarching message from this powerful production, it’s the importance of sharing stories like this. And to fight society’s taboo against having similarly frank and open conversations.