Monday, October 19, 2009

"A Perfect Child" - October 2009

Perhaps it's because the premise of Lewis Hetherington's "A Perfect Child" intrigued me so much that I was left feeling so let down by it. Opening in a consulting room we meet Elizabeth and Victor as they are asked to choose the characteristics - physical and personality - of their yet to be conceived designer baby.

The background is sketched in quickly and effectively as we're informed that they are to be the first couple to be given such extensive options and we will be following their progress as the child grows up. We witness each meeting, years apart, with the medics unseen and unheard on the 'audience side' of the fourth wall. Pauline Lockhart and Barnaby Power do a great job of delivering their lines to the off stage listeners and even more impressively in reacting to their unheard questions without them turning into overplayed noddies.

But almost immediately we lose much of what was of interest in the set-up, and most of the issues highlighted in the 'sessions' are completely unrelated to the genetic issues and could equally be said of any 'normal' family. Of course that may be the point of the piece, but if so I'm not sure it was worth the effort.

There are several directions the piece could have headed off into - the child's response to his situation, the medics' view of the parents child rearing skills, the ethics involved - but instead it meanders towards its (un)dramatic (non)conclusion through what are largely a series of domestic tribulations only skirting on public reaction to the child. I kept waiting for a game changing revelation or punchline but it just never came.

A Perfect Child runs at Oran Mor until Saturday 24th October.
Image by Leslie Black Photography used with permission