Photograph 51, the story of British scientist Rosalind Franklin and her key role in the early 1950s in the discovery of the structure of DNA and the blueprint for life, opens Friday at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.
Anna Ziegler’s play, winner of the 2016 WhatsOnStage Award, looks at the independent and ambitious Franklin’s achievements in a field dominated by men, work that was overlooked in the competition for acclaim.
“The subject is formal of course, it's about science, but the play is very engaging,” said Dave DeChristopher, Photograph 51’s director and the Rep’s artistic director.
“It has rolling narration, with each character sharing his particular recollection (and prejudices) straight to the audience. Sometimes they are even competing with each other for our attention, which is delicious. It also has a ‘meta’ element, in which characters are in the middle of scenes and sometimes pop out to tell us what they were thinking at the time ... as they remember or misremember it, and at times, the line between recollection and reality becomes blurred.
“One of the challenges has been tracking the specificity of the stages of scientific development in the story,” DeChristopher added, “but it's all communicated through the involvement of these colorful characters so that makes it both more dramatic and more interesting for the audience. People can definitely learn something about science and DNA but not in a dry and boring way.
“We're finding it to be a very funny play as well, at times, because the tension of the competition brings out humor as well as suspense.
“Finally, it's a strangely timely play, because of our current moment in gender politics. I don't want to give too much away, but it's not just the familiar story of a woman battling in a predominantly male field [which can seem preachy], but also the issues in Rosalind Franklin’s personality and upbringing that ultimately contributed to her fate.”
The cast includes Marissa Rex as Rosalind Franklin, Matt Kizaur as Maurice Wilkins, Jordan Borowski as Ray Gosling, Logan Hunter as Don Caspar, Cameron Lightfoot as James Watson, and Matthew Gretzinger as Francis Crick.
Imagination Station, Toledo’s downtown science center, will present live science demonstrations in the Rep’s lobby on March 10, and March 24 and 25, beginning 90 minutes before performances. The fun, interactive, and educational demonstrations will cover science topics relating to the play.
Performances of Photograph 51 are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Rep’s 10th Street Stage, 16 10th St. Additional performances are at 8 p.m. March 16-17, 2:30 p.m. March 18, 8 p.m. March 22, 23, and 24 and 2:30 p.m. March 25. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 seniors, $12 students from age 14 to college, and $10 for children 13 and under, from 419-243-9277 and toledorep.org.
Cutting Edge Theatre Company will present the rock musical Little Shop of Horrors, a comedy about floral assistant Seymour Krelborn and his experiences with and a man-eating plant he names Audrey II, after Audrey, a co-worker he’s infatuated with. The musical is by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, and based on the 1960 comedy horror film by Roger Corman.
Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Nederhouser Community Hall at Olander Park, 6930 W. Sylvania Ave. in Sylvania. They include American Sign Language.
Tickets are $20 and available at cuttingedgetheatre.org and at the door.
Contact Sue Brickey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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