Labour of love

Jes­sica Marais and Jonathan LaPaglia star in Love Child

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

So­ci­ety’s val­ues and at­ti­tudes are con­stantly shift­ing and evolv­ing, but there are times through­out his­tory when that process seems to move a lit­tle faster. And the 1960s are gen­er­ally viewed as one such era.

Due to the changes that came about, it’s a pe­riod of­ten viewed through rose­c­oloured glasses. But it was also a tur­bu­lent time when the con­ser­va­tive, es­tab­lished way of do­ing things bumped up against a more rad­i­cal point of view.

It was chal­leng­ing and con­fronting for many people. But mov­ing for­ward al­ways re­quires some ef­fort and re­sults in a bit of fric­tion.

The new Nine drama Love Child uses the ’ 60s era as a back­drop for a vi­brant, en­gag­ing story of a chang­ing world and the people strug­gling to ei­ther break free of the bonds restrict­ing them or main­tain the safe sta­tus quo.

Set in Syd­ney’s Kings Cross circa 1969, it re­volves around the area’s gen­eral hospi­tal and the ad­join­ing Stan­ton House, a home for young and un­wed moth­er­sto- be.

Ma­tron Frances Bolton ( Mandy McEl­hin­ney) rules the roost with an iron fist, frown­ing upon the youth­ful ex­u­ber­ance of Stan­ton House res­i­dents like Viv ( Sophie Hensser), Martha ( The

Sap­phires’ Miranda Tapsell), An­nie ( Gra­cie Gil­bert) and Shirley ( Ella Scott Lynch) and for­bid­ding them from even leav­ing the build­ing.

But the ar­rival at Kings Cross Gen­eral Hospi­tal of new mid­wife Joan Mil­lar ( Jes­sica Marais), back home af­ter years in Lon­don, prom­ises to shake things up.

Clash­ing with the stern Ma­tron Bolton and the staid Dr Patrick McNaughton ( Jonathan LaPaglia) as she tries to in­tro­duce a more com­pas­sion­ate ap­proach to car­ing for these young women, Joan is de­ter­mined to drag the es­tab­lish­ment kick­ing and scream­ing into the fu­ture.

It’s a charis­matic char­ac­ter for the tal­ented Marais to play, and one the for­mer Packed to the Rafters star was ea­ger to bring to life.

“Af­ter be­ing in Lon­don for quite some time, where she was en­gaged to an English doc­tor and run­ning with quite a so­phis­ti­cated crowd, she’s back in Syd­ney, nurs­ing

a bit of a bro­ken heart, and finds her­self form­ing a bond with many of these girls at Stan­ton House,” Marais said.

“She has her own ca­reer as­pi­ra­tions – she wants to be one of the first fe­male ob­ste­tri­cians in Syd­ney – but her jour­ney is work­ing within the sys­tem while fight­ing it at the same time by sup­port­ing these girls through their preg­nan­cies and their post- birth ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Joan is some­thing of a fem­i­nist but she’s also drawn to pow­er­ful men. She’s in­trigued by them but she also re­alises she needs their help to get ahead in some ways, so if she has to wrap Dr McNaughton around her fin­ger a lit­tle, then so be it.”

The char­ac­ters of

Love Child and the joys and strug­gles they deal with are the heart of the se­ries, Marais points out, with the sights, sounds and sen­sa­tions of the ’ 60s pro­vid­ing a back­drop more than any­thing else.

“It’s not re­ally nos­tal­gic in terms of the area or the events,” she said.

“It’s more about these people and their lives, al­though it’s up to the au­di­ence to make up their mind about whether things have changed a great deal or if we haven’t ac­tu­ally pro­gressed as much as we think.

“It was a time of mov­ing for­ward in so many ways, but in other ways we’re still ar­gu­ing about ba­sic hu­man rights.”

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