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A Number.

Caryl Churchill is not a playwright who repeats herself. She doesn't have an immediately identifiable writing style, nor does she revert to certain kinds of characters or situations. Her work tends to be politically aware and highly original, and each play is distinctly different. A Number, written in 2002, when the world was agog with news that a sheep called Dolly had been cloned, is short, spare and evocative, a quiet but anguished musing on the topics of cloning, identity and nature versus nurture. The plot follows a father, Salter, who has had one of his sons copied, and who discovers that an unscrupulous scientist used his genetic material to create several more clones. As the action begins, he's in conversation with the original clone, Bernard — the man he considers his real son — and it becomes evident that Bernard's understanding of the way he came into being is false. He has always been told that Salter wanted to reproduce a first baby who died. But it turns out that son number one — also Bernard — is very much alive, and he appears in the flesh to confront his father in the second scene. So as he considers legal action against the errant scientist, Salter ponders his own motivations: Were they to create a perfect human being, or to erase his own shortcomings as a parent? Bernard number one is insecure and afraid — not least of Bernard two, who is twisted and homicidal. And then appears clone son number three, who turns out to be a completely different kettle of fish. Much of the discussion about cloning over the past decade has been predictable, with experts noting that science and technology have bestowed capabilities that existing legal and ethical structures just aren't equipped to deal with. But what still resonates is Churchill's essential question, the one most of us ponder when we're alone: Who am I, and what does it mean to be me? Presented by Curious Theatre Company through June 17, 1080 Acoma Street, 303-623-0524, Reviewed May 19.

Rose Colored Glass. Rose Fleishman, a Jewish refugee from Austria, runs a delicatessen in Chicago, right across the alley from a pub owned by Lady O'Riley, a dour Irish widow. Separated by centuries of history, culture and religion, the two women are coldly formal toward each other, but Lady's irrepressible granddaughter, Peg, won't have it. She's forever shuttling between the eateries, chatting, asking questions, thinking up stratagems, and slowly, reluctantly, the women begin speaking to each other. The relationship deepens as Lady learns more about Rose's predicament. It's 1938, and through the increasingly unreliable news channels from Europe, Rose finds out that her sister Sabena has disappeared from Vienna and is either dead or in hiding, and that her eleven-year-old nephew, Abraham, has fled to England. She and Lady join forces to bring the child to America. This is a gentle, nostalgic piece that would make a charming essay, short story or one-act, but there's not enough action to animate a full-length play. The tone is far-reaching and humanistic, however, and important ideas are aired: humankind's provincialism, for example, and the way we tend to ignore far-away tragedies unless there's a specific story and name attached to them. There are also salutary reminders of America's shameful reluctance to take in Jewish refugees during World War II, the bureaucracy and anti-Semitism that saw thousands of professionals, workers and people with prosperous relatives in the United States turned away on the grounds that they might become a public burden. The play also does a good job of re-creating the war as seen from the United States; along with the characters, we attempt to tease out the words from a radio's crackling static and contemplate the huge importance of papers — birth certificates, visas — that can mean the difference between life and death. But the script itself is fairly static. Presented by Miners Alley Playhouse through June 19, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, 303-935-3044, Reviewed May 12.

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