Georgia Henry reviews A Number by Caryl Churchill, performed on-campus by the T24 drama society.

On Saturday 14 November I went to see T24’s version of Caryl Churchill’s A Number.  Directed by James Nash, a second year Drama student, this two man play addresses the idea of cloning and the nature versus nurture argument.

The play follows a series of conversations between a father (Salter) played by Peter Marsh, a second year English Literature and Drama student, and his son and various clones, played by Tom Clare, also a second year Drama student. Salter’s son Bernard always believed that he was an only child, and that his mother died in childbirth, but in this play he finally learns the shocking truth – he is a clone and the original child was put into care as a result of his father’s poor parenting after his wife’s death.

Nash’s take on the play was an organic production of the text, the set was bare and the only technical elements were two small desk lamps which were switched on and off between scenes in order to differentiate between the episodic nature of the play. This simplistic presentation of such an intricate play allowed the audience’s focus to be solely on the two actors. Clare’s performance of both the original son and the clones was brilliant, he was able to subtly create differences between the characters without explicitly presenting an alternate individual. Marsh’s performance as Salter worked incredibly well in correspondence with Clare, and he created a complex character who was able to capture the audience’s attention with moments of pure sincerity. In the final scene, he also employed magnificent comedic timing to enhance the performance with light relief as the play came to its close.

Overall T24’s production of Churchill’s 2002 play A Number, was excellent and emotionally apt, and a great success for James Nash in his directorial debut at the University of Kent.