Walking into the Virago Theatre Company’s production of The Singularity, one doesn’t know quite what to expect. Even before the show begins, Crystal Jackson’s comedy presents audience with an image of a woman strapped to an exam table – leaving room to fill in the blanks. Even in a situation many would deem unpleasant, she is humming and singing to pass the time, as we wait for the doctor to arrive and discover her story.
The Singularity combines humor and the future of science to face a challenging reality for some women – the inability to conceive naturally. When a middle-aged woman named Astrid (Laura Lundy-Paine) only has one egg left and the clock is ticking on her health insurance, she has no choice but to take (dark) matters into her own hands. With the help of quirky individuals such as the nurse at the “underground” clinic as well as her friend Kyle (both played by Michael Vega) and the dorky yet lovable scientist (Dan Fagan) who also plays the doctor, lawyer and patient at the clinic, Astrid gets a first-hand look at the dangers of desperation.
Under the careful direction of Amy Fowkes, Lundy-Paine captures a woman’s painful journey when trying to have a baby and nothing is working. She finds the ever so delicate balance between finding the strength to keep it together and allowing her vulnerability and struggle to shine through. While she knows what she wants when it comes to selecting a donor, her choices become limited with time and she resorts to an option that is way ahead of her – or medicine’s – time.
Astrid’s interactions and relationships with the other characters further illustrates the troubled state she is in – as most find her uptight and particular – and allow her to slow down and examine her thoughts and actions. She is determined to have a baby at any cost and doesn’t seem to consider the consequences – until it is too late.
The Singularity provides an interesting and advanced look at where medicine and science are headed. It seems that the tasks humans have managed for centuries, such as manual labor, operating machinery, and even getting pregnant may become obsolete with the advancement of technology. While a scary thought, it’s important to think about the world we live in and what means we are willing to take to get what we want.
Costume design by Brooke Jennings certainly fit in with the futuristic theme, with Astrid wearing a dark frock and sparkly make-up – her super-hero uniform – and the scientist donning an outfit that was a bit edgier than the typical lab coat. While the doctor and nurse are more conservative in their dress, their over-the-top personalities more than stole the show. Lighting by Duane Pagano is explosive, and adds another level of intensity to the dramatic moments.
The best phrase to describe The Singularity is wonderfully weird. You’ll laugh, you’ll wonder what is going on at times, but most importantly you’ll ponder what the future has in store and if any of us are ready for it.
The Singularity (through August 15, 2015)
Virago Theatre Company
The Flea Theater, 41 White Street,– between Broadway & Church Streets, in Manhattan
For tickets and information, call 212-352-3101
Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission