Clinical to cynical
Theater tackles many genres, but one that doesn’t get done much is science fiction. We’re not talking futuristic or fantasy or campy, but real science fiction, with the emphasis on science.
Well, playwright Caryl Churchill gives us exactly that in her fascinating play A Number, which explores the issues of human cloning and nature vs. nurture. Capital Stage takes Churchill’s challenging script and stirs in wonderfully creative production elements and strong acting that result in an intelligent, fascinating peek at what wrongs could be wrought when messing with nature.
Churchill’s nuanced script is without punctuation, so it’s up to the director and cast to determine the rhythm and pacing of the vague, verbal tennis matches, which can be frustrating at first. However, when placed in the skillful hands of director Stephanie Gularte and ace acting team of Gillen Morrison and Loren Taylor, the results are captivating.
Taylor portrays the Father, while Morrison portrays a series of Sons that slowly discover the truth about their conception. It soon becomes apparent that the Father is an unreliable narrator when his various Sons show up and the Father’s stories about births, deaths and mothers don’t line up. The story goes from clinical to cynical and beyond.
Taylor expertly leads us from sympathy to deception, while Morrison adeptly gives us a series of portrayals that run from befuddled to brutal to bemused. Elevating the production even further is the imaginative lighting, sound and set design that literally gives heartbeat and horror to the story.