Maxine Peake to star in Avalanche: A Love Story

Maxine Peake in Avalanche: A Love Story

Maxine Peake in Avalanche: A Love Story

Maxine Peake is to star in Julia Leigh’s adaptation of her powerful memoir, Avalanche: A Love Story, at the Barbican from Saturday 27 April–Sunday 12 May. A prolific theatre, television and film actress Maxine Peake’s career highlights include Black MirrorFunny CowRed RidingThe Devil’s WhoreThe Theory of EverythingPeterlooThe FallingShameless and an extensive list of dramas for the BBC including The VillageSilkCriminal JusticeThree Girls and most recently, The Bisexual.  Constantly looking for new challenges and surprising audiences she has played a range of provocative and award-winning characters, notably the title role in Hamlet at the Manchester Royal Exchange. As a writer, she has retold fascinating stories of women in British history who achieved greatness, or faced adversity, though her plays, BerylThe Last Testament of Lillian Bilocca and Queens of the Coal AgeAvalanche: A Love Story marks her debut at the Barbican Theatre.

When a woman rekindles an early love in her late 30’s her whole life changes. Deeply in love, she and her new husband decide they want to have a child together and, like countless other couples, they make a visit to the IVF clinic, full of optimism. So begins a long and costly journey of medical procedures, nightly injections, rituals and the oscillation between high hope and the depths of despair.

Avalanche lays bare the stark truth of one woman’s experience of the seductive promises made by the multi-billion-dollar IVF industry to those in the grip of a “snow blind” yearning and desire to make a baby. The devastating toll on her body, her relationships and her career as an author/filmmaker, are portrayed with compelling honesty and moments of black humour. At the heart of this dramatisation is an exploration of who we are and how we love – the potent power of the desire for family and future. Inspired by Leigh’s story, it is a courageous and ultimately wise account of a profoundly important and widespread experience.

Avalanche: A Love Story is the centrepiece of Fertility Fest 2019, the only arts festival devoted entirely to the subjects of modern families and the science of making babies, now in its third year. Founded by Jessica Hepburn and Gabby Vautier, Fertility Fest is a rare, open and collaborative platform that aims to drive social change through improved fertility education, patient mental health, care and general public discourse about fertility and infertility. This latest, expanded edition of Fertility Fest will run from Tuesday 23 April–Saturday 18 May and is presented in association with the Barbican as part of the 2019 season Life Rewired which explores what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.

Directed by Anne-Louise SarksAvalanche: A Love Story, is co-produced by the Barbican, Fertility Fest and Sydney Theatre Company and will play at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney, from Thursday 29 August–Saturday 14 September 2019.

Julia Leigh’s debut novel, The Hunter, was published around the world and won numerous awards, including a Betty Trask Award and the 2001 Prix de l’Astrolabe. It was also selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her second novel, Disquiet, won the Encore Award. Her film Sleeping Beauty was officially selected for the Festival de Cannes in 2011. Her memoir, Avalanche: A Love Story, was published in 2016 to international acclaim.

Anne-Louise Sarks is one of Australia’s most prolific directors. Her work has premiered in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Basel, Mexico City, New York, Auckland, Warsaw, Mannheim, Perth and Mumbai.

In 2018 Sarks was Artistic Director of the Lyric Ensemble at the Lyric Hammersmith and from 2013–2016 was Resident Director at Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney. In 2011 she was the Director in Residence at the Malthouse Theatre Company in Melbourne, and an Associate Artist for Belvoir. From 2010-2013 she was Artistic Director of the celebrated independent theatre company The Hayloft Project.

In 2018 Sarks directed a new production of her acclaimed Medea for Theater Basel, created a new devised work Abandon with the Lyric Ensemble, directed a new feminist adaptation of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People for Belvoir, and directed Sarah Kane’s Blasted at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne. In 2017 she directed Seventeen for The Lyric Hammersmith, Jasper Jones for Belvoir, Minnie & Liraz for Melbourne Theatre Company, Merchant of Venice for Bell Shakespeare and The Testament of Mary for Malthouse Theatre.

In 2015 Sarks directed a new modern day imagining of Medea, co-written with Kate Mulvany, at The Gate Theatre in London. Medea won five 2013 Sydney Theatre Awards including Best Direction, Best Mainstage Production and Best New Australian Work. It was also awarded an AWGIE for Best Stage Play and in 2013 was nominated for four prestigious Helpmann Awards including Best Direction, Best New Australian Work and Best Play.

Listings information

Avalanche: A Love Story
Inspired by Julia Leigh’s memoir, Avalanche
Barbican/Fertility Fest
Directed by Anne-Louise Sarks
Design by Marg Horwell
Sat 27 Apr–Sun 12 May 2019
Barbican Theatre
7.45pm; 3pm only on Sun 28 Apr, Sun 5 and Sun 12 May 2019; also 2.30pm on Sat 4 and Sat 11 May
1 hour 30 mins/no interval
£16–60 plus booking fee (£2 off top three ticket prices for preview performances on Sat 27, Sun 28 & Tue 30 Apr 2019)
Age guidance 14+
Press night: Wed 1 May 2019, 7.45pm
Captioned performance: Thu 9 May 2019, 7.45pm
Audio-described performance: Fri 10 May 2019, 7.45pm

Produced by Barbican Theatre Productions and Fertility Fest
Co-produced by Sydney Theatre Company