“Genesis 37” was an intriguing and rather mysterious play and where it ended up was not at all expected. It was also a rather savage — in a supremely civilized fashion — takedown of the one percent and patriarchy in general.
“Genesis 37” pushed boundaries and did so in a very polished presentation that was unsettling.
“The Future Is Alive” is the premise of W.A.N.D., a fictional company dealing with technical, genetic matters. The founders even created a website detailing the services of W.A.N.D. (Luckily, there’s a disclaimer that it is fictional.) The participant-audience was limited and invited into a virtual presentation on W.A.N.D.’s resolution of a global crisis — Femina Deceas–37, the name given to a plague that wiped out three-quarters of the female population on earth.
But W.A.N.D. came up with a solution — cloning. And you get options. We were invited to interact with two models: Alpeda (Avgi Pourgoura), who is smart, beautiful, and happiest when around or immersed in water, and Niki (Amalia Paschalidi), who is even smarter and tends to marry physics with poetry. She had prepared a monologue for us.
We were introduced to this solution by Dr. Kirsten Hansen (Renee Eskildsen), and her company/lab co-founder, Dr. Michael Monaghan (Marlow Stainfield). Everything was lovely and upbeat and a little mysterious.
Then came the offer. W.A.N.D. had three packages available: White, Yellow, and Red. These clones, who had asked us if we thought of them as humans and talked with us and wanted to be friends, were prototypes of available models. Done with soft lights and a beautifully clean background, it was a jolt.
Why worry about the loss of half of the planet’s inhabitants when you, if you could afford it, buy a young, beautiful, and as smart as you want her to be, new model of someone? The calm and reasonable tones of Dr. Hansen were chilling when the kicker was introduced.
The talkback delved into questions of ethics, what it means to be human, how can a world become so transactional, and what value do women have. How can we live in a world where women are still primarily valued for biology and are commodities?
The acting was brilliant. As the models, Pourgoura and Paschalidi combined the wit and learning of highly educated young women with the innocence and wonder of beings only a couple of months old. Eskildsen was so reassuring and confident that she made it all sound so reasonable and rational, yet had a slightly chilling edge underneath. Stainfield was a little goofier, with the enthusiasm of an Irish setter combined with an underlying anxiety. He used his voice to great effect in conveying that.
There were just two performances, and this was the company’s first show. It will be an experience to see what this young company comes up with next. “Genesis 37” pushed boundaries and did so in a very polished presentation that was unsettling.
Running Time: Approximately one hour.
“Genesis 37” was streamed live twice by Genome Theatre in the UK on Sunday, September 6 and Tuesday, September 8, 2020. For more information, check out their Facebook page.