Lucy, the teenage heroine of Eliza Clark’s Recall, produced by Colt Coeur at the Wild Project, seems unlikely to score well on her SATs, ACTs, or GREs. When asked her favorite subject, she sulkily replies, “Lunch.” Yet there is one standardized test she’ll undoubtedly ace: The Hare Psychopathy Checklist. Skinny legged and baby-faced, Lucy (Jordyn DiNatale) displays fearlessness, remorselessness, impulsivity, and a pile of wristwatch trophies so extensive it would make most serial killers sick with jealousy.
In the mildly futuristic Recall, which borrows from Philip K. Dick’s dystopian fancies, the government monitors and sometimes imprisons suspected antisocial kiddies. So Lucy and her unusually tolerant mother, Justine (Katya Campbell), must move from school to school and town to town, constantly dodging the authorities. But Lucy seems less concerned with lurking below the radar, instead initiating a romance with another troubled adolescent, Quinn (Owen Campbell). Caleb Scott, as the staffer of a safe house, and Colleen Werthmann, delightful as a socially awkward scientist, complete the cast.
As in Clark’s earlier and equally violent Edgewise, Recall piles on the metaphors, thought experiments, and multiple plot twists. Clark has much on her mind here—heritability, reparation, rehabilitation, government interference. So much, in fact, that it overwhelms the 90-minute play.
This is a pity, as Clark has a talent for naturalistic dialogue (particularly, as in Edgewise, among teenagers) but seems determined to ignore it in favor of these headier, more hysterical concerns. Similarly, director Adrienne Campbell-Holt encourages many nicely observed moments, but then gluts them with fog machines, juddering projections, and loud scene change music. This isn’t to say that Clark shouldn’t indulge her brutal, philosophical predilections or that Campbell-Holt shouldn’t stage them, just that neither should be so quick to sacrifice plausibility for provocation.
Then again, perhaps you shouldn’t criticize the work at all. Lucy doesn’t seem the type to stand for bad reviews.