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  A Number at Writers Theatre

A Number

Writers Theatre
325 Tudor Court Glencoe

Powerful, unpredictable and devastating, Caryl Churchill's suspenseful A Number sees a father meeting his "estranged" son over several visits. As they reconnect, multiplying lies are uncovered, revealing a horrifying truth about their shared past that leads directly to the provocative questions: how much do we pass on to our children and is it really possible to atone for our mistakes?

Thru - Jun 9, 2019

Price: $35 - $80

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 847-242-6000

Running Time: 1hr, 5mins

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  A Number Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Churchill's play imagines what might happen if they did. And in doing so, it uses a very simple and clever theatrical technique: Once you introduce the theme of human cloning, you can use the same actor to play both the original human and a carbon copy. Or maybe copies, since the technological possibilities did not limit you to one. And you can keep your audience guessing as to which one they are seeing."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...In a lean 65 minutes, Churchill probes the terrifying notion that humanity isn't defined by free will and singular souls. Maybe we're all just amalgams of outside forces such as genetics or the environment or some vast algorithm that dictates what we buy, watch and engage with. Directed by Robin Witt, the two-actor drama, now playing at Writers Theatre, and set in the near future, forces audiences to question their own sense of self. If all that sounds like an overly esoteric Ted Talk, be assured that "A Number" is anything but. "A Number" is a shade too short to be entirely satisfying. But what unfolds within its brief span is fascinating."
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Catey Sullivan

Daily Herald - Highly Recommended

"..."A Number" is far from the only sci-fi piece pondering the dire implications of genetic cloning. But Caryl Churchill's 2002 British drama, now receiving an unsettling revival at Writers Theatre in Glencoe, feels especially timely and relevant."
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Scott C Morgan

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...The script is dry, and even witty at times, though the director and her actors downplay the comic turns. That is just as well, because the somber audience who saw the show with me was in no mood for laughter. No loss. The play is just as absorbing when it's played straight."
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Jack Helbig

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Salter’s little boy was perfect. Beautiful. In his father’s eyes, the child Bernard was everything a man could wish for. Then, something happened. What, exactly, is the conundrum at the core of Caryl Churchill’s intriguing futuristic play “A Number,” in which William Brown and Nate Burger now occupy the stage at Writers Theatre."
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Lawrence Bommer

Splash Magazine - Highly Recommended

"...A Number opens in medias res — “into the middle of things” — an ancient approach that jibes with today, when TV shows use nonlinear narratives for that extra edge. British playwright Caryl Churchill’s A Number fairly bristles with edges, its cuts tempered by a deep dive into what it means to be human. Now in a pitch perfect production at Writers Theatre in Glencoe, A Number rewards theatergoers ready for the ride."
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Leanne Star

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...One of my favorite Theater Companies is Writers. They bring works to their stages that make one think, often , very deeply. As you know, with the new facility they have an intimate “black box” theatre called The Gillian Theatre, allowing them to do even more intimate works. The Gilliam is now playing host to a unique 65 minutes play, “A Number” written by Caryl Churchill and smoothly directed by Robin Witt. This is definitely a “think piece” and the two characters that are in this story ( or are there more?) will amaze and keep you glued to your seats."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...It’s vaguely interesting in the way a crossword puzzle is. And while Churchill’s script is a shadowy and literary piece of theater, the show’s theatrical and narrative meandering feels pointless. We could walk out to the lobby, have a conversation and be happy. As the show winds down and the conflict abates, Salter presses his last relation, an illegitimate clone of his son (again, Burger), who responds with a figure: we share roughly thirty percent of our DNA with lettuce."
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Jay Van Ort

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Caryl Churchill is a gifted British writer known for plays that dramatize the abuses of power. Some of her most popularly produced works include “Vinegar Tom,” “Cloud Nine,” “Top Girls” and “The Skriker.” In this short one-act, the playwright is concise and at the top of her form, as she ponders the morality of nature versus nurturing. She’s created a world of the not-too-distant future, in which cloning, although still a debatable practice, is now commonplace. By plunging us directly into the middle of the scenario we’re witnessing a conflict between a father and his sons. The audience becomes immediately engaged in deciphering the mystery of the who, what, when, where and why of their relationship. But, it’s a stimulating intellectual challenge that’s well worth the effort."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...In a 1960 essay, Churchill wrote "Playwrights don't give answers, they ask questions." "A Number" probes in an intimate manner the question of who we are as individuals. How much is our sense of selfhood based on nature and how much on nurture? Is the play science fiction or a cautionary exploration of what may face the human race in the near future. The playwright offers no facile answers, but audiences who give her play their full concentration will leave the Writers Theatre with their minds churning."
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Dan Zeff

Chicago Theater and Arts - Highly Recommended

"...Yes the show, written by Caryl Churchill back in 2002 when copying mammals' DNA and genetic make-up was in the news, is about cloning. It's also about examining uniqueness, identity, upbringing, abandonment and truth."
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Jodie Jacobs

Storefront Rebellion - Recommended

"...And it's a hearty meal for its two actors. Nate Burger subtly but sharply delineates the three identical strangers he portrays: one well-balanced but freshly betrayed, another abandoned long ago and coldly resentful, and a third who embodies the banality of happiness. William Brown's cagey dad must reckon with his own long-ago actions and emotions, revealing a rather chilling ability to compartmentalize. They're the only two actors on stage, but Courtney O'Neill's relatively spare living-room set nonetheless offers seating for several more-a reminder, perhaps, of all the other sons still left unseen."
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Kris Vire

PicksInSix - Highly Recommended

"...Churchill’s compelling work, rich with a distinctive narrative cadence, poses significant questions in the cloning debate. It answers only a few of these questions and leaves the rest for you to ponder on the way home. Robin Witt’s absorbing direction would make Serling proud. There were several moments in the fast-moving 65-minute drama when I heard Serling’s resonate, atonal voice bouncing around in my head saying, “You’re traveling through another dimension.”"
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...British playwright Caryl Churchill delivers her vision of cloning in a brief but intense 65 minutes. While the first successful cloning experiment produced Dolly the Sheep chewing her cud calmly amid Scottish greenery, Churchill's imagination takes us to a frightening place."
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Susan Lieberman

Rescripted - Highly Recommended

"...I’m trying not to give too much away here, but the Writers team has created a perfect piece of high-concept theatre in A Number, using one particular sci-fi trope to ask pointed questions about fatherhood, toxic masculinity, and the ways we try to control those we love. Paced at a taut 65 minutes, A Number packs an effective punch."
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Aaron Lockman

  A Number Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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