“The trouble with a kitten is / THAT / Eventually it becomes a / CAT,” Ogden Nash famously rhymed. Substitute Nash's “kitten” with “kid” and “cat” with “adolescent,” and you get the gist of Recall, playwright Eliza Clark's dark, dystopian sci-fi allegory about one of the more frightening and unthinkable imponderables associated with modern parenting.
Such as: “What if my little darling is actually a cold-blooded, homicidal sociopath?”
At least that's the predicament facing Justine (Karen Nicole), who, when the play opens, is on the lam in a seedy motel room of the near-future with her 13-year-old daughter Lucy (the fine Madeline Bertani), an average, truculent, taciturn and rebellious teenager, who just happens to be scrubbing what's left of Justine's latest in a series of boyfriends out of the carpet.
In Clark's Orwellian surveillance state, the means of weeding out such “pre-violents” is via a process of invasive testing (by quasi-human shrink Lara Fisher) whose ultimate fail results in something euphemistically called a “recall” – a fate that the enabling Justine and resistance soldier Mark Souza are out to prevent.
Though the 2012 play barely pre-dates Sandy Hook, Dan Spurgeon's sleek staging and Pam Noles' costuming clearly situate Clark's skillfully off-balance horror in the context of Columbine-like time bombs and a larger if murkier cultural psychosis afflicting civilization and its youthful discontents.
Visceral Company, Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hlywd.; through May 4. Thevisceralcompany.com.
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