Informed Consent: Theater review by Sandy MacDonald
The latest science-centric script developed via the EST/Sloan Project, Informed Consent—based on a real-life 1990 case—trails a whiff of the didactic. In fact, it culminates in a lecture, delivered by Tina Benko as the fictitious Jillian, a dweebish, socially tone-deaf genetic anthropologist who decides to extract some extraneous—but potentially valuable and perhaps personally relevant—data from a study supposedly limited to the high incidence of diabetes among an isolated and therefore “unpolluted” Arizona tribe. Just one hitch: The Native Americans consider their blood sacred, their “creation story” incontrovertible.
Is Jillian’s overreaching warranted? That’s for the audience to decide. Itching to start her research, she pleads her case with a traditionalist community activist sturdily played by DeLanna Studi, who does double duty as Jillian’s four-year-old daughter. A little bit of childish lisping goes a long way, and Liesl Tommy’s direction for this Primary Stages production, along with Benko’s extra-goofy interpretation, verges on the overly cutesy. Still, how many plays leave you debating the advisability of having your genomic fortune foretold?—Sandy MacDonald
Duke on 42nd Street (Off Broadway). By Deborah Zoe Laufer. Directed by Liesl Tommy. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 35mins. No intermission.