Overview

A Number


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A: Caryl Churchill Pf: 2002, London Pb: 2002 G: Drama in 5 scenes S: Salter's home, c.2000 C: 2m, playing 4mSalter, in his early sixties, is talking to his son Bernard (B2), 35. He is horrified to learn that his son has been cloned a number of times, and threatens to sue the hospital doctors responsible for damaging Bernard's uniqueness, weakening his identity. However, Bernard is concerned that he is perhaps not the original. Salter admits that when his wife and 4-year-old son died in a car crash, he wanted to replace his son. Salter explains to the original Bernard (B1), who is 40, that he had him cloned but had no idea so many would be created. B2 has met B1, and now tells Salter that he is ‘a nutter’. Salter admits that his wife threw herself under a train when his son was 2, and he later sent him to be cloned. B2 fears B1 may kill him. Salter asks B1 how he murdered B2. Salter meets Michael Black, 35, a perfect clone of Bernard. He is a mathematics teacher, married with three children. Michael seems quite relaxed about being a clone, but Salter mourns the death of his two Bernards (the original has committed suicide). Michael points out that all humans share 99 per cent of the same genes, and admits that he likes his life.

A: Caryl Churchill Pf: 2002, London Pb: 2002 G: Drama in 5 scenes S: Salter's home, c.2000 C: 2m, playing 4m

A Number is arguably the most important play to date of the new millennium. In a series of skilfully written duologues, Churchill grasps the nettle of the scientific possibility that human beings may be cloned, and. by doing so, debates the nature of identity. In Michael's optimistic conclusion that he is happy to be 30 per cent genetically the same as a lettuce, Churchill puts into perspective the contemporary obsession with individuality.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


Reference entries
Authors

Caryl Churchill (b. 1938) English dramatist


Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.