The Sequence

For over 80 years, theater artists have been trying to make peace with technology and science, fields that would seem to defy the arts — from Elmer Rice’s disturbing 1923 The Adding Machine to Heinar Kipphardt’s 1964 drama, In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, to Tom Stoppard’s impenetrable Arcadia in 1993, through David Auburn’s emotionally wrought 2001 psychological exercise, Proof. Generally, though, real science is employed to move the plot along and involve characters without boring the audience with technical details. In Paul Mullin’s new play, The Sequence, however, the protagonist is the scientific inquiry at the heart of the play: the mapping of the human genome. In a very pleasing twist of expectations, some fiercely human, comic moments make for breathtaking dramatic tension — stemming from questions of whether the ultimate credit for unraveling DNA should go to scientist Craig Venter (Hugo Armstrong) or Francis Collins (William Salyers), and whether reporter Kellie Silverstein (Karri Kraus) should get a Pulitzer Prize for writing a story about the two-man race. Mullin’s often outlandish explanations of the subject make for fascinating rapid-fire entertainment that moves from childlike storytelling to music hall and beyond. Director John Langs and his bright (and often overarticulate) actors maneuver with assurance through Mullin’s slippery slopes between reality and fantasy. Gary Smoot’s simple but sharp scenery, Jason H. Thompson’s projections and Jose Lopez’s lighting design present a beautifully crafted visual production. Adding Robbin E. Broad and Joseph M. Wilbur’s pounding sound design creates an even more profound environment. Boston Court Performing Arts Center, Main Stage, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Nov. 9. (626) 683-6883
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Oct. 11. Continues through Nov. 23, 2008


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