A Child of Science at the Bristol Old Vic is a brilliant window into the development of IVF. 

Many will seek out the play at the Bristol Old Vic because Harry Potter's Tom Felton is among the show's superb cast, but any who do, will find themselves enraptured by the emotional retelling of two doctor's struggle to tackle infertility. 

Full disclosure, this play hit something of a personal nerve for my wife and I, as we have had our own struggles with infertility and are now well into the process of adopting, but I would like to think that such is the strength of the actors involved and the play's writing that even those without personal experience would be moved. 

The play opens with a bang as we meet kind and consistent Patrick Steptoe, played by Jamie Glover, who attempts to save a woman who has had an illegal abortion from a 'butcher', informing us straight away of his motivations. 

He eventually crosses paths with, Robert Edwards, played by Felton, who is the first to discover that he can fertilise an egg outside of the womb, he seems slightly more dubious in his actions, he seems to want to be the first to achieve it, with helping women as an unintended consequence. 

It seems fitting that Felton is once again playing a conflicted figure who at times pushes against the strained edges of morality, with a paranoid, angry, and obsessive portrayal, but Felton's Robert a far cry from the bratty Malfoy and is far more assured and confident man. 

The pair are rounded out by Meg Bellamy, who many will recognise as Kate Middleton in Netflix's The Crown, whose Jean Purdy forms a sort of bridge between the two doctors, as smart as she is empathetic. 

But while A Child of Science is a 20-year-spanning journey of the attempts of these three brilliant people, loaded with exposition and dialogue, its real heart and its greatest strength is its focus on the real people, both within the play and outside of it. 

Adelle Leonce's Margaret and her embattled attempts to become a mother permeate the entire thing, and her dogged determination hurtling forward is a heart-wrenching glue that holds the science together and highlights the human cost at stake. Her performance shines a light on the whole thing, making it all the more brighter. 

To add to this, the play makes the powerful decision to intersperse scenes with a choir made up of women who have struggled with infertility, with their performances projected into tiles on a sliding glass screen providing a haunting and effective reminder of the real people at the heart of this fiction. 

The grounding in relatability helps to make the play infuriating and frustrating in equal measure, but deliberately so. A monologue from the Pope warning that IVF was an affront to God and an unscrupulous journalist deploying underhand tactics throw spanners in the works, and even though all these years later IVF is very much a thing, the possibility that the action of these people could have derailed it draws visceral reactions. 

Such then is the relief when the trio get to the point of perhaps bringing into this world the first IVF baby into the world, 300+ trial subjects in, with the play ending on this poignant moment, because, of course, we know what happens next, and it is a testament to the performances and writing that it can draw this emotion from a story that we know ends well. 

A Child of Science is truly gripping and I would thoroughly recommend it. 

Tickets can be found at the Bristol Old Vic website: https://bristololdvic.org.uk/whats-on/a-child-of-science.