For anyone who has struggled to have a child, Killer Cells is a must-see show. It’s a true story of life, loss, resilience and hope; its humour and authenticity is demonstrated in the love that the characters show each other, and the isolation of each person’s private pain. Writer and director Sarah Lewis tackles the play with great sensitivity, wit and insight – something that's only possible because it is her story. The knowledge that actors in the play have also suffered miscarriages and the loss of a child gives them the power to speak directly to your heart.
Central character Bec says early on: “I learned there is a fine line between joy and fear; trust neither.” Bec is lost in a labyrinth of grief, and yet she holds herself together – suffering with quiet dignity, like many other women walking the path of pain alone before and after her.
Bec's partner Jamie has a past. Family memories inform and, to some extent, haunt him in his present struggle. Adding to his own grief, he is forced to watch Bec battle consecutive losses and physical pain alone - and though Bec tries to protect Jamie from her anguish, he suffers as he watches her withdraw. All he really wants is to be allowed to love her and make her happy, a happiness the couple once took for granted. “I think she’ll crumble in my hands if I try and help her,” he says.
Some much-needed humour and compassion is injected by Grace: she is the friend of 20 years at the end of the phone, always available for a cuppa, who resolutely stands by her friend, especially when Bec is silent. And then there is the yoga instructor.
For me, this play stands head and shoulders above other performances at this year’s Brighton Fringe. If you like Gavin and Stacey, you’ll like its approach; it’s a true story, wholesome, and without self-pity. It shows that you can tackle an inconceivably painful subject without resorting to darkness and torment. It makes you believe that although life is sometimes unfair, love and friendship can help you turn the corner into a new dawn – and it encourages its audience to find the courage to share their own loss, and find healing.
I wish I had seen Killer Cells earlier in the run, because I would not hesitate to recommend it. It's not just for would-be young mothers, but for anyone who hopes for or cherishes someone to love.