The human experience is a special one, each of us comprised of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. The meaning of life a deep question that continues to fascinate and perplex us all. Written 20 years ago at the start of the new millennium, Caryl Churchill’s futuristic meditation on humanity, A Number, boldly explores issues of human cloning and identity. Post pandemic, the show has been re-staged for our times, provoking philosophical thought.
One father, various clones of a son lost, A Number observes what it means to bond yet grapple with the idea of clones of oneself elsewhere. The show conjures up the idea of parallel universes, questions arising such as ‘Does the mere presence of said clones impact the lives of the others?’, ‘Does individuality become challenged by their presence?’ Paapa Essiedu as the son and Lennie James as the father inquisitively play around with this profound dynamic. Churchill’s piece existential, leaving you pondering the big questions as well as looking one’s own individuality.
Lyndsey Turner directs a fascinating production, lines sharp, quick, machine-like, both quick to respond to the other’s thoughts. Family is an integral theme of the evening, and one that intrigues as we watch both constantly trying to figure things out. Although biologically family, both distanced. Masculinity also playing a vital role, both men trying to understand one another and acnowledging what unites both. Es Devlin’s tangerine adorned home setting is the show’s visual signature, a vibrant, bold choice that brightens up the space, adding to the show’s abstract nature. A show that you leaves you contemplating what family means, why we’re here and what it means to be human.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
A Number is currently showing until Saturday 19th March 2022 at the Old Vic. To find out more about the production, visit here…