Maxine Peake, the respected English star of stage and screen, speaks quietly and precisely about what drew her to Julia Leigh’s play Avalanche: A Love Story. Adapted from the Australian writer and director’s 2016 memoir, it sees its unnamed character undergo six unsuccessful rounds of IVF, laying bare the significant physical, mental and financial costs of assisted reproduction.

Maxine Peake Maxine Peake in  Avalanche at London’s Barbican Centre. Photo © The Other Richard

“I’d been through IVF and just felt it’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough, and when it does it’s always in a very positive light. It’s all the success stories. I realised fairly early on that IVF wasn’t for me, it wasn’t a journey that I was going to persist with. So I think there’s a real need to talk about when it doesn’t work out and the impact of that for some women, which is what Julia’s play does brilliantly.”

Avalanchepremiered at London’s Barbican Centre in April as part of Fertility Fest, an arts festival devoted to the science of conception and modern families. Co-produced by Sydney Theatre Company and directed by Australian Anne-Louise Sarks, it arrives at the Roslyn...