News Story

One Last Push has officially opened here at Salisbury Playhouse and audiences are already loving this raucous new comedy, combining farcical and tender moments. But in the world of theatre, authenticity is key, even when it comes to comedy. Bringing the birth scene of One Last Push to life on stage is a balance of humour and authenticity, and that's where our two amazing midwife advisors stepped in. We sat down with Terri and Jane, seasoned midwives whose expertise in the rehearsal room ensured the birth scene was realistic. They shared their insights into the creative process, the challenges they faced, and how they brought their professional knowledge to the world of comedy theatre.

How did you become involved with this project?

I have been a Front of House volunteer at the Playhouse since 2013, which is just after I retired from my work as a midwife. Gareth knew that I had been a midwife for many years, and so he asked me if I could help advise on the birth scene in One Last Push.

Terri: I was approached by Wiltshire Creative, to discuss the possibility of helping with the production.

Have you done anything like this before?

Jane: No, I have never done anything like this before; I do, however, love going to the theatre and working front of house.

Terri: I’ve been choreographing births on screen since 2011 and have decades of midwifery experience but this is the first time I’ve worked on a theatre production.

On reading the script for the first time, could you visualise how the birthing scene would work, or did you advise on any tweaks to retain a sense of reality?

Yes, it felt like some of the births I have attended during my professional life, albeit not the badger and leaking pool. The tweaks I did suggest were more to do with what happens if the midwife can’t get there in time, how midwives risk assess, what to do with the umbilical cord and the placenta.

Terri: The script is excellent and the birth sequences worked well but I did advise some tweaks to enhance a sense of reality.

Terri, you’ve worked with Laura Main before in Call the Midwife, helping her portray both labour and birth realistically. What has it been like to work with her again but this time for a stage production?

Terri: I’ve had the pleasure of working with Laura on Call the Midwife since 2011 when filming first started. It’s a pleasure to be able to spend longer with Laura and support her through a birth on stage.

This story is a very chaotic one, with lots of things not going to plan! Do you have any stories from your careers where things descended into chaos?

Over 33 years in practice, I have attended many, many births both at home and in hospital, including waterbirths. I haven’t attended any births where it has been quite as chaotic as the one in the play, but I have had some very interesting experiences. I have supported women to birth in a static bus, parked up on the roadside; in a caravan with a wonderful log burner; in a house being renovated, so surrounded by building materials and boxes; with family in the room including pets, and children alongside; in the bathroom; in a car. Every time it has been a huge privilege and a joy to be present at one of the most momentous experiences of a woman’s life. Women are amazing. They are ‘warriors’ just like Jen in the play.

Terri: This is quite difficult to answer because labour and birth are usually calm, and filmsets are busy but controlled environments. I do remember one particular delivery in the 1980s. The father, a police officer, sat with his wife throughout labour, telling stories of all of his amazing, daring deeds at work, there didn’t seem to be anything he couldn’t do. At the end of the labour he was sitting at the head of the bed on a high stool, supporting his wife. The moment the baby’s head was about to be born he fainted, and as he slid to the floor, hit his head on the seat of the stool, the metal footrest and then and the floor. His wife seemed to forget her situation and tried to help her husband. Luckily the baby’s arrival was hastened by the mother’s movement, and she was distracted by her newborn daughter. The unfortunate husband missed the birth, sustained a fractured skull and had to be taken to the emergency department still unconscious.

One Last Push is now showing at Salisbury Playhouse until 9 March. Book your tickets now!