August 18, 2015

In “Informed Consent,” a thoughtful and engrossing play by Deborah Zoe Laufer, a research scientist specializing in genetic diseases finds herself embroiled in controversy when her fierce dedication to her work, and her deeply personal reasons for pursuing it, lead her into murky ethical waters. Jillian, played with take-no-prisoners intensity by Tina Benko, is a genetic anthropologist whom we first meet in a rare moment of repose. She’s writing a letter to Natalie, who we soon learn is her young daughter. Trying to cast what she has to say in child-friendly terms, she begins on a storybook note: “Once upon a time … There was a mother. Who had a monster sleeping inside her.” Realizing that this is perhaps a little too scary, she discards the idea and, at the urging of voices inside her head, tries a softer approach. (The voices are provided by the rest of the play’s cast of five.) “There was a mother who loved her little girl so much,” she writes, “that she would do anything to save her.”