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Posts Tagged ‘Lennie James’

I’m not that keen on Caryl Churchill’s cloning play, though this is the fourth production I’ve seen, of only five staged in London. ‘So why do you keep going?’ I hear you ask. Well, I keep getting drawn to it by the casting – Michael Gambon & Daniel Craig in 2002, father and son Timothy & Sam West in 2010 and Roger Allam & Colin Morgan just two years ago. Now it’s the turn of favourites Lennie James, who we haven’t seen on stage for too long, and brilliant new talent Paapa Essiedu.

Salter is a father whose son has either died, or been put into care following his wife’s suicide (there are conflicting scenarios). He agreed to cloning to give him a second chance at being a father, but he later learns the doctors created multiple clones without his consent. Over five short scenes we meet two clones and his original son (supporting the care rather than death scenario). When the clone he’s brought up finds out, he is angry. When the real son finds out, he resolves to kill the clone. When Salter realises there may be twenty, he sets out to meet them and we see the first encounter, a maths teacher married with three children who has little interest in how he was created and little interest in Salter.

I still struggle with this one-hour play, but it was the best of the four productions I’ve seen. It’s usually cold and clinical, but Lindsey Turner’s staging also has passion and humour. Paapa Essiedu differentiates between his three characters more (and can now add quick change artist to his impressive CV!), playing the first clone and real son more emotionally. Lennie James conveys the complexity of Salter’s feelings and reactions superbly. Two fine performances. Designer Es Devlin seems to have created an orange version of her 2018 blue monochrome design for Girls & Boys at the Royal Court.

I’m glad I gave it another go, though I hope I’m not drawn to a 5th outing by yet more enticing performers, though there’ll probably be a female version soon with two favourite actresses to tempt me!

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