Directed by: Bill Alexander
Written by: Fay Weldon
Other cast: Michael Cashman, David Hargreaves, Richard Armitage
Venue: Birmingham Repertory
Production dates: 23 February 1999 - 13 March 1999
‘The Four Alice Bakers’ explores the issue of human cloning and individuality. The narrative is framed using the device of a television talk programme, the ‘Harry Harper Ethical Show’, in which a bio-geneticist, who, it is revealed, has cloned his three daughters from his wife’s mammary tissue, is interrogated by its host.
Several decades ago a geneticist’s blunder succeeded in cloning three daughters from his infertile wife. The truth is revealed during the course of a grotesque television talk show, Harry Harper’s Ethical Show, on to which the scientist and his family have been unwittingly lured. Harper, the smarmy TV host, puts Baker in the “hot seat” with demonic glee.
Baker, the rumpled scientist, worked with Francis Crick on DNA structures at Cambridge. That was when he fell in love with Alice, an ‘English Rose’. Of the three daughters, one may or may not have been abused by their father, one may or may not be a lesbian and one may or may not really be a man.
Ruari Murchison’s designs split the Birmingham Rep stage into three areas: the snazzy TV studio; the hospitality suite that’s suspended in the air like a capacious lift; and a circular tower that revolves to let us travel back in time to catch glimpses of the Baker’s family life. Centre stage, we have a high-backed leather swivel chair, where first Professor Baker, then his wife, then his eldest daughter, then his middle daughter, and then his youngest daughter, face Cashman’s questions.
Based on the novel ‘The Cloning of Joanna May’ by Fay Weldon.
Sophia played the young Alice Baker. In her first scene with the young Richie Barker, set in 1952, the couple dance a foxtrot to ‘Some Enchanted Evening’. Richie is so bad that they give up and soon after become engaged instead.