A woman discovers that the son she gave birth to is not her own in Chimera, an intriguing solo play co-created by performer Suli Holum and writer Deborah Stein, now being presented by HERE as part of Under the Radar.
The show tells the story of Jennifer Samuels, a microbiologist who in researching the cause for a benign pediatric heart murmur afflicting her son Brian, finds out that she possesses two sets of DNA, a rare medical condition known as chimerism. The show raises some provocative questions, such as how much DNA is required to make up a person, and similarly, if it's not what you consider to be your own genetic material that has gone into the creation of a child, then what responsibility do you actually have to him?
Holum portrays all the roles in the play, giving each a distinct manner of speaking. The characters not only include both Jennifer and Brian, but also a mysterious narrator figure that the script refers to as "The Coffee Lady." It's this persona that the audience first meets, and who often interacts directly with patrons in a friendly and amusing manner.
A crucial component of the performance is the well-executed video design by Room 404 Media / Kate Freer and Dave Tennent. Images such as strands of DNA and video doppelgangers of Holum are projected onto the white surfaces of Jeremy Wilhelm's set, which is meant to represent a kitchen.
Still, it's Holum's live performance that will no doubt prove most memorable, as she possesses a remarkable charisma that is sure to charm audiences.
-- Dan Bacalzo