Upon making your way down the winding stone tunnels beneath the Adina hotel, look for the woman in the red bathing suit. She’s going to change your life.
From the outset we know this show is about the termination of a pregnancy. Those with lived experience or strong emotional connection to this topic, you may choose to read no further or elect not see this play. However, if you think you can handle it, I guarantee this work will not leave you untouched.
Written by Emily Steel, and performed by Tiffany Lyndall Knight, 19 Weeks returns to the Adina Hotel for a second sell-out season. This incarnation is directed by Nescha Jelk, taking the baton from Daisy Brown. The powerhouse of a play is built upon this talented trifecta of women, who join forces to deliver one this year’s most impressive Fringe offerings.
In the seventy-five minutes by the glimmering light of the Adina pool, we experience a roller-coaster of emotions. Knight floats, screams, swims, walks, ponders, splashes and speaks to her intimate audience of twenty, making eye-contact with each and every one of them.
19 Weeks is one of those shows that stick with you. Whether it’s because of its raw emotion, intimate delivery or heart-aching truthfulness, you will find yourself thinking about it long after you’ve dried your eyes (and pantlegs if you had your feet in the water).
This play is especially pertinent at a time where there is still not enough education and resources available to women for sexual health and family planning. In an informal Q&A following the Thursday night screening, Steel discussed her reasons for writing 19 Weeks. She spoke candidly about the isolating nature of the procedure and the stigma that still surrounds abortion. She did not want others to feel like they were the only person going through this. Instead, her goal was to celebrate the unheard voices, the complex women, the hard-to-tell stories. As she sees it, it was her responsibility as an artist, a writer, and a woman, to tell this story and empower others through it.
19 Weeks will play your heartstring like a harp and leave you a little worse for wear. But it’s stories like these that affect change, and give rise to a better tomorrow. So buy the ticket, stick your feet in the water and listen.