GMO: Genetically Modified Organism takes the form of a trial, with the audience as the jury. Not a new idea - Ayn Rand was an early pioneer with a play called Night of January 16th - it is an appropriate choice for a show that wants to put across arguments on both sides of an issue, in this case editing of the human genome, and make the audience choose which is right.

The courtroom setting makes showing dramatic action difficult, so this production has a couple of theatrical tricks up its sleeve. Curiously, the defendant is not the scientist who illegally used genome editing on a human embryo four years ago, but the child - his daughter - whose genome he edited in order to save her from being stillborn. We are given access to some of her thoughts and feelings during proceedings, and she has a mysterious, unexplained connection with the judge. The scientific content is kept to a minimum as emotional and ethical arguments take the lead.

Unlike Coney’s recent production, Remote, and other shows that have explored a Choose Your Own Adventure approach, GMO only lets the audience make one decision about the story, but it is the critical one. At the performance I saw, the audience voted 20-5 (I won't tell you our verdict), and we saw the relevant consequences play out. Of course, there is a desire to know how the story would end after the alternative verdict - but the production wisely refrains, allowing our decision to continue feeling meaningful. (MR)

GMO: Genetically Modified Organism is on at 12.45 at Paradise in the Vault until August 13th. Wheelchair Access, Level Access, Wheelchair Accessible Toilets -

Scientists were put on trial in Italy in 2011 for failing to predict an earthquake:

More about Ayn Rand’s 1934 play that used audience members as a jury:

A 2016 review of Remote by Coney:

Crispr/Cas9 is the latest genome editing tool: