Coupla Scientific Sibs Sittin’ around Talking
Vaxed, an extremely intriguing original script by Theatre 9-12 Artistic Director Charles Waxberg, opened Friday starring Cynthia Geary and Taylor Scowcroft as an older sister- younger brother pair, each successful research scientists, who have a late night heated discussion. They battle over whether it is scientifically ethical, or even professionally prudent, for scientists to self-administer an unproven vaccination, in order to have personal subjective data, as opposed to solely empirical data.
This question arises when Ted, an Immunologist, discovers that the HIV vaccine he has been working on, for three years, is highly successful in lab animals, but is a total failure in humans. Accidentally, however, the vaccine has some positive and possibly globally beneficial side-effects in humans. As a result, he has decided to inject himself and wishes his older sister, a more eminent Geneticist, would do the same, in order to give him extra credibility.
A long, often times hilarious, often times disturbing, but always profound discussion ensues, in which the two siblings confront some of the limitations of science, of its ethics and play power games. Each are entrenched in their own positions and along the way their views on evolutionary biology and its relationship to “otherness” is explored. It is also highly topical, in a way one would not expect from the title.
Although, in my opinion, Vaxed could have been shorter, the execution was brilliant, as were the actors, Cynthia Geary of Northern Exposure fame, as the exasperated older sister, Natalie, as was Tyler Scowcroft, the risk-taking extremely exasperating younger brother. The roles were challenging, as they were on stage for more than one hour without a break, their timing was perfect and the dry witty humor of the script was delivered with aplomb. Director Paul O’Connell deserves a lot of credit for keeping it moving and keeping the audience interested, as it is no easy task in a two person, one act, one scene play. O’ Connell added quite a bit of creative stage business.
But a lot of the credit goes to playwright Charles Waxberg for this incredible script. It wrestled with profound issues of scientific ethics as well as existential ones, with all the seriousness of the great philosophers and theologians, accentuated with wit and humor, in the sophisticated dialogue. I highly recommend Vaxed; it is so stimulating that it asks more questions than it answers.
Vaxed. By Charles Waxberg. Theatre 9-12. 609-8th Ave. Trinity Episcopal Church’s Parish Hall, First Hill, Seattle, 98104. FREE Parking in the Skyline Parking Lot on Columbia between 8th and 9th. #12 bus to Madison. Fri, Sat 8 pm. Sun. 2 pm. Tickets: Theatre 912.com/Vaxed.html
Vaccination Verification required for entrance. Seating is socially distanced. Masks required