BWW Review: INFORMED CONSENT at GableStage
Stealing the Being
The Grand Canyon's Havasupai tribe are dying out from diabetes. They have a champion. Social anthropologist Ken (Carlos Orizondo) has lived with them, studied them, and written a book about them and he's trying to help them survive. So he brings in a genetic anthropologist Jillian (an outstanding Betsy Graver) to draw their blood and from this discover why the diabetes.
Ken is arrogant, patronizing, very much the savior who insists that Jillian do nothing more than study diabetes, but she cannot limit her research. For more than diabetes is on Jillian's mind. Her mother died in her thirties from Alzheimer's. She is also falling into early onset Alzheimer's and is dreading the arrival of the same disease in her four year old daughter. Graver's emotions as she moves through her arc are subtle, moving and memorable.
Jillian's husband, children's book author Graham, played with maturity and grace by Jovon Jacobs understands his wife's worries but prefers to worry later, not now, please.
Francisca Munoz is the dignified Arella, educated, well-traveled member of the Havasupai tribe. She leads their belief in the sanctity of their ways and legends and is barely persuaded of the necessity of giving the tribes' blood. Her reaction when Jillian's research runs deeper than diabetes, revealing the legend destroying genetic history of the tribe, leads to the tribe suing Arizona State University, a fact on which Deborah Zoe Laufer based her play.
Elizabeth Dimon plays Jillian's stricken mother, a university dean, a tribal member, a mother at a children's party, all with the delightful flair that is her trademark. Orizondo and Munoz also play multiple roles.
A one hour and forty minute one act, INFORMED CONSENT is presented by GableStage on a simple stage with a few platforms representing canyon rocks, desks, living room, tribal areas and lecture halls. An upstage backdrop subtly changes color with locations.
Laufer directed INFORMED CONSENT with the same skill she shows in her writing. She and her cast bring out every essence of the humor and sorrow of those searching for the truth of being. Can science be allowed to change the history of a person? Are legends inviolate?
When seeking consent must everything be revealed?
INFORMED CONSENT plays through August 27 at GableStage at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables. 305-445-1119 http://www.gablestage.org
Photo credit: George Schiavone