Arts & Culture Music & Events Spotlight Fara Illich March 17, 2010

I have to admit, when I first read the description about SECRET ORDER currently playing at Herberger Theatre Stage West, I thought how do you combine science and art and not put people to sleep? To say the least, I was intrigued and SECRET ORDER more than delivered.
secretorderWritten by playwright Bob Clyman, SECRET ORDER is the story of a brilliant thirtysomething cell biologist named Dr. William Shumway (Cale Epps) from the University of Illinois who may have discovered the cure for cancer. The discovery leads to a flashy new job at a prestigious cancer-research institute in New York, led by the ambitious Dr. Robert Brock (Mark DeMichele) who practically salivates at the thought of a Nobel Prize. Or any prize. As news of Shumway’s ground-breaking work spreads, a young wide-eyed, overly enthusiastic Harvard University student, Alice Curiton (Jessica Weaver), seems ready to sell her soul for a summer internship with Shumay. Throw in a jealous and sabotaging Dr. Saul Roth (David Vining) at the research institute and you’ve got a play filled with twists and turns that test the will, desire, and integrity of everyone.
Through fast-moving and rich dialogue, SECRET ORDER explores the world of high-stakes science and dirty politics as Dr. Shumway realizes that his cell research may not be as life-changing to himself and the world that he hoped, much to the delight of Dr. Roth and the fury of Dr. Brock. Alice, meanwhile, serves not only as his faithful intern assistant but also as Dr. Shumway’s conscience until the end of the play when her own will and desires are tested.
SECRET ORDER doesn’t short-change science either, even while it expertly weaves big themes into the play like: How far are you willing to compromise your ethics? What happens when idealism clashes with reality? Is science really any different than business? It’s the kind of play that you should watch with a group of friends so that you can discuss it afterwards over coffee or a beer.
I enjoyed SECRET ORDER. The fact that Dr. Shumway hails from my alma mater didn’t hurt either. Go Illini!
So get your geek on, grab a few friends, and see this play. It’s only in Phoenix till March 21.
You can purchase tickets here or by calling the Herberger Box Office at 602.252.8497.