Can a science thriller be intellectually sexy? Vancouver theatre-goers are about to find out as Realwheels Theatre presents Arun Lakra’s Sequence at North Vancouver’s Presentation House later this month.
Consisting of two intersecting storylines, in the first a professor confronts a student who has defied probability by taking a multiple-choice exam only to get every answer wrong.
In the second, the “luckiest man alive” – with his uncanny ability to predict the winner of the Super Bowl coin toss for 20 years running – is confronted by a young woman who claims to know his secret.
“They’re really interwoven,” says Byron Noble, who plays Theo. “It starts off with the two scenes coming together as one, then they separate and we go back and forth throughout the entire play.”
While it all might sound a bit cerebral, actor Amy Amantea says audiences will also find it accessible.
“When we call it intellectually sexy, it’s more about the language that the playwright has used,” she says. “For example, there are scientific terms that are thrown around and some of them may be above some people’s heads, but the play is crafted so well that even if you don’t understand the science behind it, it’s broken down so that it’s understandable.”
Amantea plays Dr Guzman, a genetics professor who happens to be losing her sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa. It is a condition Amantea can relate to, herself legally blind.
“I just happen to be a blind woman who is playing a blind character,” she says. “Although my level of sight-loss is very different from this character, she ironically sees more than I do.”
No mere coincidence though, as Amantea joins an integrated cast of four professional actors, including two who live with disability.
The second actor with a disability is Jake Anthony, who plays Mr Adamson, a religious university undergrad student living with paraplegia. While Anthony himself is not a paraplegic, he does live with autism.
With Realwheels Theatre’s central mandate to deepen the audience’s understanding of the disability experience, Sequence is a natural fit for the company, and is in fact the first production of Lakra’s play to feature such an integrated cast.
“For me personally, it is exciting to be the first woman with sight loss to play Dr. Guzman,” says Amantea. “We have come a long way in arts accessibility when an actor with a disability is hired to play a character with a disability.”
But while bringing together an integrated cast may be the company’s raison d’être, those involved also point to the play’s thought-provoking content. For Anthony, it is in the questions it asks.
“This play tackles a lot of strong and intriguing philosophical points such as: how much of our lives are preordained and how much is free will? Do science and God coincide? Is luck genetic or simply by chance?” says Anthony. “I love plays that really make you think, even after you’ve left the theatre, and Sequence is definitely one of those plays.”
Amantea is also intrigued by the questions it asks, but says it is also about the journey it takes audiences on.
“The story is compelling and filled with moments where the language of math, science and spirituality are interwoven in a creatively witty and fast-paced style,” she says.
Sequence plays Presentation House in North Vancouver from March 14-24. Visit https://realwheels.ca for tickets and information.