Lucy (Jordyn DiNatale) is the kind of girl who might once have been called a bad seed, but by the time we meet her she has flowered, an early bloomer, into sociopathic adolescence. In the first scene of Eliza Clark’s quietly chilling Recall, she scrubs blood from the carpet of a motel room—the stain of a man who had the gall to insult her science-fair volcano. But the blood won’t yield, and her protective mom, Justine (Campbell), knows they need to move forward: to a safe house, where the kindly David (Caleb Scott) awaits, and to new names and a deliberate forgetfulness that takes the place of guilt.
Directed by Colt Coeur’s Adrienne Campbell-Holt with special sensitivity to degrees of abnormality, and performed by a bang-up cast, Clark’s thriller deploys clean naturalism in the service of a story that turns out to have Philip K. Dick on the brain. The portrait that emerges is of a society committed to preemptive strikes against misfit kids—such as Lucy’s new friend Quinn (Owen Campbell)—who are monitored by operatives like Charlotte (Colleen Werthmann, dry as a well-picked bone) for signs of incipient violence. Since many teenagers strike their parents as terrifying anyhow, this system has serious potential for error, especially when the parents likeliest to be nervous may not be the ones who should be; though the play engages questions of heredity, it also makes plain that Lucy’s evil nature thrives in the soil of Justine’s nurturing one. The rumored treatment for risky teens is called “the fish tank,” an apt analogy for the culture of surveillance that Clark depicts unflinchingly: one so suspicious of memory, and so determined to stare blankly ahead, that it becomes strangely of a piece with its enemy.—Adam Feldman
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