British father and son actors, Timothy and Samuel West (Timothy being one of those ragged old faces you have seen in so many TV and film productions), are performing their hearts out playing father and son at The Fugard in a play called A Number.
It’s a play that makes us look at the ethics and effects of cloning as it becomes clear that the father has more than one son, exactly alike. Sam takes the role of the son in several cloned guises and the two of them hold the stage without falter for an intense 50 minutes. The relationships expose the fractured nature of these characters and challenge our understanding of what makes us ‘us’.
It’s in the smallest of Fugard’s two theatres, where the seats on either side of the square stage come right down to the stage edge. Director, Jonathan Munby says it was “essential to find exactly the right space… and make sure the audience are as close to the action as possible.”
The script by Caryl Churchill – who Sam thinks is “the UK’s greatest dramatist”, is so masterful that you don’t hear the writing. She creates characters who leave a sentence in the middle because it is perfectly clear what they are expressing. It sounds real, even if the concept is – at this point in time – hypothetical.
The combination of a great script, a deep understanding between father and son actors, experienced directing and the right theatre, make this a short performance that will leave you with thought-provoking conversation over dinner.
The play, A Number is on at one of Cape Town’s best-loved theatres, The Fugard, from 4-29 October 2011, Tues 9pm, Wed-Sat 7.30pm and 9pm. To book, please call 021 461 4554.