The bioethical drama A Number (opening tonight at the Cleveland Play House) has much potential to be controversial . . . if it weren't so busy messing with our heads. "On the surface, it's a cautionary tale about genetic cloning," says director Sonya Robbins. "The topical ideas are used to get at universal anxieties."
Caryl Churchill's 2002 play is set in a future society where cloning is an everyday reality. An alcoholic father, who abused his four-year-old son after his wife's suicide, wants to trade in his child for a new version one that he's yet to, in his words, "ruin." "The play gets at the fragility and lack of focus for the modern identity," says Robbins.
Over the course of the story (produced by Dobama Theatre), the protagonist comes face-to-face with his three sons all created from the same speck of genetic material. "We aren't very good at opening Pandora's boxes and then shutting them," says Robbins. "The question is, will we use these technologies responsibly?"
Thursdays, Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 12. Continues through Jan. 22