The issue of stem cell research and its ethical implications is one we must discuss as its potential becomes clear, but the morality becomes ever more complicated. In Nobel, Theatre With Teeth does not shy away from the subject. It tackle its questions directly through monologues and images supported by fiery and fluid choreography. It’s a stylish piece of work and shows a lot of promise for this young company, but sometimes the arguments are overly simplified and presented in a clear way which doesn’t allow for much complexity.
A cast of five move through a series of vignettes and sketches in order to present the facts and ideas. At the centre of it all is a figure who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and discusses the various options open to her, allowing the piece to have some kind of cohesion and pushing one individual to consider all the arguments for themselves.
Various proto-scientific demonstrations show the company at its best, as it utilises powerful visual images in order to explain an idea. In one, a joyful, smiling lecturer talks about the mysteries of the proportions of the human as other performers represent them, whilst another uses balloons with glowsticks embedded within to explain how stem cells work. Nobel therefore allows us to understand better how these processes work whilst also being theatrically interesting.
The company’s movement sections are also particularly interesting, flowing between smooth routines and harsh, violent ones in order to place one idea in opposition with another. The final piece sees the company come together in one final struggle, and though some of the ideas aren’t exactly original they are nonetheless effective. This is typical of a show which has plenty of energy and potential, but doesn’t quite go deep enough into the issue to be satisfactory. If Theatre With Teeth continues to ask the same kinds of questions that it tackles in Nobel, however, its shows are never going to fail to provoke some kind of debate.
Nobel is at Zoo until 26 August. For more information and tickets visit https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/nobel