A number: 18,647,324.
A Number: A 20th anniversary revival of Caryl Churchill’s critically-acclaimed play about three clones and their father, staged in one of the most beautiful theatres in London and starring two exceptionally good actors.
Running at The Old Vic until mid-March, it follows another recent staging at the Bridge Theatre just before lockdown. This brand new production comes to you from Lyndsey Turner, who’s also directed productions of Churchill’s Top Girls and Far Away in recent years. And she’s cast a couple of luminaries to tackle this two-hander: RSC board-treader and I May Destroy You actor Paapa Essiedu, and Line of Duty’s Lennie James. On top of that, Olivier award-winning designer Es Devlin is behind the striking, monochromatic set (her previous clients include the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, and a little-known singer called Beyoncé).
Churchill wrote the play in the thick of the early noughties discussion about cloning and the slippery ethical path it might lead us down. In A Number, a father is confronted by three cloned sons: Bernard 1, Bernard 2, and, er, Michael. Through this uncanny triumvirate, all kinds of provocative philosophical questions are raised about what it means to be human, and whether being unique is an integral part of that. Two decades on, people might be more concerned about big tech than encountering their own doppelgänger, but it still has some strangely resonant points that’ll give you plenty to discuss once the curtains drop (maybe over a little tapas at Meson Don Felipe, or some lauded Thai at Sticky Mango).
The two actors have fantastic chemistry, and it’s mesmerising to watch Essiedu seamlessly navigate between his three roles. The show packs serious punch into its 65 minutes, and critics at The Guardian and the Evening Standard have already given it 5 and 4 stars respectively.
Which are some pretty decent numbers.
NOTE: A Number runs at the Old Vic Theatre until 19th March. Tickets cost £10-90, and you can book right HERE.
A Number | The Old Vic, The Cut, London, SE1 8NB
Image credit: Manuel Harlan
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