Monday, May 15, 2006

Nature or Nurture a Number

Gretchen, Judy and I attended a matinee of Caryl Churchill's "A Number" at the American Conservatory Theatre. (Gretchen pointed out the irony of seeing a play about a set of clones on Mother's Day!) Bill Smitrovich plays the father of the 21 clones, of which Josh Charles ("Sports Night") plays three of them, in this short (1 hour?!) one-act. The Boys are about as different as a trio could be: one good, one bad, and one terribly confused.

They proceed to have arguments about why this happened and how can he love them and what happened to mom and some other stuff, which seemed sort of irrelevant as the point was made so quickly as each character 'enters'. (The CRAFTY set features no entrances or doors! The Boys make their costume changes during blackouts.) The dialogue itself is exceptionally British, with lots of interrupting 'yes'es, etc., and I sort of wish it had been directed in dialect so we could have heard that pacing and clip. As it is, it sounded more like stuttered Mamet, which I don't think was the reason for Churchill's meter. It's a very UK meter in which sentences don't necessarily finish out of emotional embarassment or mutual understanding. Of course, had the director, Anna D. Shapiro, eliminated her Mamet-ian stutters, it would have been a REALLY short play! Josh Charles does a bang-up job in portraying the three boys, and Smitrovich does well in slowly disclosing his secrets. However, the play itself just seemed a bit slight to me, and I think A.C.T. may have felt the same, as they held a panel discussion afterwards. Gretchen and I did not stay for this, however Judy did and reported:

They talked about it all, ethics, science, the play itself. There was a lawyer and a biochemist on the panel. The agenda appears to have been to make sure we all knew:
1-scientific reality of cloning which start with stem cells
2-that we are decades away from clones as represented in the play
3-stem cell resarch is under funded thanks to the religious right and we must keep research alive

Caryl Churchill's play was more a statement on nurture vs nature and a very lousy parent. Cain and Abel were mentioned.

Biochemically you cannot rule out the uterus as an important environment for the clone blastula so she may have also been commenting on men and the dream to clone himself without the help of women (notice there were no women in the play).

This was followed by a songs of Kander and Webb presentation in the downstairs which I skipped for Macy's.

I'm sort of glad I skipped out to get to the Mission for the SF DocFest!

1 comment:

Maxxxxx said...

"Wanna watch TV?"