THE terrible consequences of what can happen when science goes wrong are explored in a gripping production of Caryl Churchill's play A Number now on at the Young Vic.
Bernard always thought he was an only child – but at the age of 35 he learns the shocking truth. He's not. In fact he is one of a number of children cloned in a lab by scientists.
But is his father telling him the truth about his family, his other siblings and indeed about how he came to be? Was he really wanted and how many others are there?
It is a fascinating look at how the boundaries of science and ethics can be blurred with the added twist on the dynamics of the father/son relationship.
The Young Vic's production is brilliantly staged and the design by Tom Scutt is genius. The men, played by real life father and son John and Lex Shrapnel are confined in a box surrounded by mirrors - and while we, the audience can see them, they can't see us.
The audience are split into four groups - our tickets have but a number written on them - and is ushered into one of four small rooms.
The action is played out in front of us and in between the short, sharp and intense scenes the lights go off inside the box and the mirrors reflect not the actors but us the audience.
In each scene we see the father, Salter, try and explain what has happened and why to three of his sons - each played by Shrapnel junior.
But each time, a different story is told, leaving the audience wondering what the truth is.
It is quite brilliant. Both men show a range of emotions and Lex Shrapnel easily conveys the three cloned sons and their different characteristics.
Salter at first seems to be reassuring to his son, but then seems to be trying to wriggle out of a series of awkward questions, not least, did he know what was going on?
Punchy, fast and furious, with plenty of moments of laugh out loud humour it's all over in an hour - but what an amazing hour. Of that there is no doubt.
A Number is on at the Young Vic, The Cut, until August 15. Tickets £19.50. Visit www.youngvic.org or call the box office on 020 7922 2922.