Prymate tells the story of two scientists fighting over the fate of a sign-language-speaking gorilla. The Broadway production starred Phyllis Frelich, James Naughton, Heather Tom, and André De Shields. It was directed by Edwin Sherin and featured scenic design by Robert Steinberg, costume design by Colleen Muscha, lighting design by Jeff Nellis, and sound design by Michael Smith.
The show generated some controversy for the casting of De Shields in the role of Graham the gorilla, which he originated in a production at Florida State University. Prymate received no 2004 Tony Award nominations but De Shields was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play.
In his review of Prymate for TheaterMania, David Finkle wrote: "At least in part, Medoff's purpose in contriving this heated tale seems to be to denounce the use of animals for scientific exploration. In terms of feelings and emotions, the playwright suggests, humans aren't at all superior to other primates and may even be far less dignified, given humankind's multitude of baser instincts. Apparently supported in this view by director Sherin, Medoff makes his argument by eventually getting the three humans down on all fours and having them rove about Steinberg's junior-mesa set. It's a forced look at primal urges, to say the least."
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