• Drama
  • By Deborah Stein
  • Directed by Deborah Stein and Suli Holum
  • Performed by Suli Holum
  • Gate Theatre, London
  • Until 20 December 2014
  • Time: 19.30
  • Review by Nicole Kent
  • 25 November 2014
Chimera
4.0Reviewer's Rating

Chimera is the story of Jennifer Samuels (Suli Holum) who learns that she has chimerism, a rare medical condition in that she carries two sets of DNA. This suggests absorbed her twin sister as an embryo which means that her son is not actually her son but really her nephew. As a result, she experiences a psychological breakdown as she comes to terms with her own condition as well as her role and fate as a mother in the play.

The play revolves around the concept of ‘chimera’ which according to Greek mythology, is a monstrous hybrid that is often depicted as a lion, a snake and a goat. In genetics, chimerism is the state of having two sets of genetic DNA in a single organism. This can lead to two different blood types, subtle mutations as well as male and female organs  known as hermaphroditism. The play explores the idea of ‘chimerism’ not only through Jennifer Samuel’s mutant son but also through her multifaceted personality as she embodies several characters in one body.

The set design is particularly interesting in that it forces the audience to use their imagination since there is nothing to see but an empty kitchen. The text describes the atmosphere and the objects which gives the audience more control over their creative output and as a result, creates a new life on stage. The use of light combines technology and science to give a new, exciting element that is very avant-garde and entertaining.  It succeeds in challenging the way we interpret surfaces, making us explore what lies beneath since things aren’t always as they seem, especially in this very modern, absurdist play.

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