FIVE FROZEN EMBRYOS
nytheatre.com review by Amy Heath-Bell
David Greenspan's Five Frozen
Embryos, presented by Singularity on a double bill with The
Sleepers, is a rapid-fire dialogue between two characters as they
dissect the legalistic language involved in the court case of Diane,
Mark and their five frozen embryos. We learn through the characters’
sometimes heated discussion that Diane, now divorced, is suing over the
right to decide the fate of the remainder of the embryos she and Mark
had frozen during an attempt to conceive children while they were
married. Although words and ideas are flying at lightning speed, the
characters, known only as Female One (Ilka Saddler Pinheiro) and Female
Two (Ellen Shanman) and costumed in white, vaguely 19th century dresses,
never move from the couch at center stage.
August 15, 2002
Jon Shumacher’s staging is simple and effective. As Female Two, Ellen Shanman has great comedic timing and plays well with the difficult pace and tongue twisting language. Ilka Saddler Pinheiro is much more subdued but unfortunately her voice is so quiet that many of her lines were lost in the laughter.
David Greenspan has written a cunning little discourse covering embryonic fertilization, marriage, the Bible, abortion and the rights a woman has regarding her own body. Filled with astute observations and clever wordplay, Five Frozen Embryos is often laugh-out-loud funny. Greenspan deftly negotiates this difficult and emotional subject. At the end of the play Female One and Two merge to speak in the voice of Diane. The effect is chilling, but it did leave me to wonder who these women are. Are they representative of Diane’s subconscious? All women? The complexity of our legal system?
Even with this question unanswered for me I still highly recommend this play. It is not very often that the topic of a woman’s rights to her own body is explored so even handedly, thoroughly and with such a sense of humor.