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Humana Festival 2003

Winners and losers in the annual national festival

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Page 5 of 5

All this unlikely back-story gives Corthron the excuse to dramatize the quandary of human cloning and polemicize about the ethics of Elo's choice. Yes, that's what Elo wants to do -- clone her dead daughter. Contrivance, you may have guessed, isn't Corthron's strong suit. Closer contact with reality might have told the playwright that a bereaved African-American with a $25,000 check isn't a formidable threat to shatter the human cloning taboo. There's a multitude of richer, whiter folk ahead of her in line.

Erm, we gradually discover, is the mother of a Down Syndrome son whom she has cast away. Two successive fantasy scenes -- where the twins talk to their normal, healthy dream children -- give the evening a momentary flicker of power. But most of the evening is spent on polemics or fruitless detours with Erm's sickle cell I>adoptiveP> sister and the obligatory reunion with Erm's birth mother.

More desperate are the cutesy scenes where we hear pronouncements from Erm's sheep. It's a doll, of course (get it?), who slide-glides into sight on a rail. Thanks to the aptly named sound designer, Bray Poor, hardly a single word from the wooden Dolly was intelligible.

Given Erm's sullenness and Elo's incessant whining, the chief comfort we take from Corthron's sterile case study is the certainty that neither of the twins' genes are destined to be perpetuated. Watching all two hours and 20 minutes of this ponderous mess gave me the feeling that I>I'dP> slipped on something. But it was more like a cow-pie than a slope. GRADE: D-

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