'A Number' by Caryl
Directed by: Anthony Norman
Design by: Michael Clements
Lighting and Sound by: Alex Lyon
Cast: Richard Parish and David Webb
For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this production CLICK : A Number
REVIEW OF 'A NUMBER' AT RIVERHOUSE,
WALTON-ON-THAMES by JEFF THOMPSON (BBC SOUTHERN COUNTIES RADIO
'To clone or not to clone' is the compelling theme of Caryl Churchill' award winning play A Number. Churchill is established as one of Britain's outstanding dramatists with a reputation achieved during more than 30 years of output. That endeavour has been, at times, both provocative and inventive, traversing the dramatic spectrum. Cutting edge work does not immediately attract a mainstream audience and so perhaps Top Girls, a play exploring how women's histories have been submerged by a masculine approach to history, has been the most popular and accessible. A Number is also accessible but it needs close attention as Churchill offers intellectual argument with a domestic setting. It got that close attention by a capacity audience at the Walton Riverhouse Barn this week when the Lighted Fools Company presented it. The play is in five episodic scenes and gives a concentrated one-hour look at the dilemma(s) of cloning. Each scene builds one upon the other. Caryl Churchill reveals a moral and emotional maze about personal identity, truth, nature and nurture. The play is a two-hander and in the Lighted Fools production Richard Parish plays the Father determined to replicate a lost son, opposite David Webb, as the first replicate. Intriguingly Webb evolves as his second - or is he the third or seventh son? – because an error has resulted in ‘a number’ of duplications, each vying for attention and in need of love and support. Inevitably jealousies emerge. The playing was even handed with two performers fully in charge of their characters. Richard Parish imperceptively progressed from a bereft Father to an experimental voyeur, with disquieting authority. Caryl Churchill’s dialogue can be difficult to interpret; the absence of punctuation occasionally suggests the density of fruitcake but Parish’s timing was realistic and his attention to phrasing, authentic. David Webb had specific challenges. He was playing differing sons – identical but dissimilar - their childhood environments had offered shifting influences. He successfully achieved this by vocal intonation and physical stance. A Number is increasingly attracting attention as science is drawn towards what some allege as ‘the inevitable’; they suggest cloning a human being will be achieved despite legislation and moral advice. Churchill’s intense review of the moral maze affecting us is but a peek into the future. I am unsurprised the audience at the Riverhouse Barn was silent and transfixed. The production was directed by Anthony Norman.
The play was presented at the Woking Festival in October 2006. The production was one of the three plays recalled by the adjudicator to be presented again on the last night of the Festival.
The production won the Eileen Harper Memorial Trophy as Runner-Up in the festival and was nominated for the technical excellence award. Both Richard Parish and David Webb were nominated for the Best Actor Award
SPELTHORNE AND RUNNYMEDE FESTIVAL
The play was also presented at the Spelthorne and Runnymede Festival in October 2006 and was given an outstanding adjudication by GODA Adjudicator, Paul Fowler. He described the production as work of the highest quality and praised both the performances of the two players, Richard Parish and David Webb and the overall direction and presentation of the play.
The production won the Spelthorne Cup for the Overall Best
Play of the Festival, Richard Parish and David Webb jointly won
the Actor's Award and the production the Stage Presentation
Award. Nominations were also received for the Adjudicator's Award
for direction and the Technical Merit Award.
In March 2007 the play was presented at the Elmbridge Festival, a first round festival in the All-England Theatre Festival. The production was one of the three plays recalled by the adjudicator to be presented again on the last night of the Festival.
The production won the Runners-Up Award and as a result moved
on to the Divisional Final. David Webb won the Best Actor Award
and the production was also nominated for the Best Director Award
and the Adjudicator's Award.
The production failed by one mark to go forward to the Area Final but received an excellent adjudication from Jane Levan who praised highly the acting, direction, lighting, presentation and original music of David Perkins
The production won the Runners-Up Award and David Webb won the
Adjudicator's Award for his performance as the three sons. The
production also won the Stage Presentation Award.
NDFA 2007 BRITISH ALL WINNERS FESTIVAL
The production was invited to Llandrindod Wells to perform at the 2007 British All Winners Festival. The performance was the tenth and last given of the play. It received a good adjudication from Scott Marshall of GODA but failed to win an award.
David Webb, Karen Sahlsberg (Anthony Norman!!) and Richard
Parish with the awards won at Woking and Spelthorne and Runnymede