Veronick Raymond earned a standing ovation on the opening night of “inVivo (testé sur moi)”, her solo piece documenting how she spent the last five years trying to have a child through medically assisted procreation. She walks the audience through the minute details of her experience, creating a scientific and personal – and surprisingly theatrical – show about a surprisingly fascinating topic. Complete with photo and video documentation of the whole process, “inVivo” brings forth a story that rarely makes it anywhere outside the cold and clinical setting of a hospital room, much less to the stage.
After Raymond and her partner failed to conceive naturally, they turned to international adoption – for which they didn’t meet some rather strict criteria, and then tried to become foster parents locally – an effort that has become quite popular, and for which they once again did not qualify. And so they sought out assisted procreation: first artificial insemination, then in vitro fertilization, and finally egg donation. Raymond embarked on a five year (and counting!) journey of appointments, tests, pills and injections (and the resulting map of bruises formerly known as her body), of nausea, pain and hormones through the roof – not to mention the cost in time, money, and emotional turmoil. She keeps a brave face through all the trials and errors, and faces some of the most disappointing parts of our healthcare system with a hunger for answers and an admirable resilience.
One of my favorite aspects of “inVivo” is Raymond recounting how, by doing her research and asking lots of questions, she managed to convince one doctor to treat her as an equal. While it’s at least partially true that Googling our health conditions is a bad idea/a wormhole that usually leads to finding out we are about to die, and that doctors are the ones with years of education and experience, it is also true that we do have a certain understanding of our own bodies and how it feels to live in them, and a vested interest in understanding and finding out what’s best for this one home we’ve got – a vested interest that can motivate reading and research that no doctor would have any reason to carry out.
“inVivo” being sorted as “bilingual” in the Fringe listing is sort of misleading, as the show is in vast majority French. Only the accompanying slideshow is bilingual, so if one were to go see the show without understanding French, they would miss out on the best part: Raymond speaking out. From the senseless recent events in the United States concerning abortion regulations, to fertility treatments not being covered by insurance because they aren’t “necessary” – which are not the same at all, but call back to the same basic principle of reproductive freedom – Raymond makes a case for all aspects of reproductive health.
At 90 minutes, “inVivo” might seem a little long (for the Fringe circuit at least), especially given its intellectual nature and its plethora of scientific terms which, though Raymond explains them well and makes the science accessible to the less knowledgeable general public, may continue to elude some. Chances are this story would be far less compelling coming from someone else, but Raymond is truly a joy to listen to. She is witty and sarcastic, funny and smart, and aware of her privilege. She acknowledges that despite her pursuits being unfruitful so far, she knows she is lucky to have been able to put in all that money and all that time, to have had the choice to keep trying when a lot of people’s circumstances would have given them only one shot (if any at all).
“inVivo (testé sur moi)” is everything you don’t expect to be interested in or entertained by, until you’re watching it and realize just how invested you are. Raymond makes a strong connection with her audience and doesn’t shy away from the parts of her story that are most difficult to talk about, those for which the wounds are still fresh, making it impossible not to root for her. I sincerely wish her all the best in the next step of her quest towards motherhood.
Pretium Doloris presents “inVivo (testé sur moi)”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: June 6 – June 16, 2019
Venue: 05 – Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire
4750 Henri-Julien, Montréal, H2T 2C8
Admission: $10 – 12 | Ages 16+
Check out all our other 70+ reviews
from this year’s fest on our Fringe page!
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