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A Number By Caryl Churchill BBC2 and iPlayer

The sons he had cloned some thirty years before confront a man and we are taken on a journey into the very nature of what it is to be human.

Tom Wilkinson plays a wealthy guy who, following the death of his wife finds his two-year-old son growing into a monster. He decides to clone the boy and make a fresh start.

The play opens as the second son (Rhys Iffans), an affable and seemingly well-adjusted young man, for reasons we are not privy to is now in possession of the awful truth that he is one of a group of replicas, and quite naturally wants to know if he is the "one", or a copy.

The style of the piece reminds me very much of David Mamet’s masterpiece Oleanna which I saw at Hull Truck, due to it being a double hander and the very basic Brechtian themes on offer.

When Son Number One appears on the scene we are confronted with the nature versus nurture argument regarding human development, and it is the simplicity of how Churchill and the actors confront this that makes A Number a very impressive work and I would very much like to see it in it’s natural environment on stage.

Quite often writers and directors over complicate matters when sometimes as Bob Dylan put it "All you need is a red guitar, three chords and the truth".

Iffans and Wilkinson were both magnificent, the former a very pleasant surprise and the latter cementing an already impressive pedigree.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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