Replica Asks What if You Were About to Die, Would You Make a Copy of Yourself?

Janna Cardia and Julie Cardia in the first workshop of Replica at Cal State Fullerton.
Janna Cardia and Julie Cardia in the first workshop of Replica at Cal State Fullerton. Photo courtesy of Mickey Fisher
What would you do if you knew you were going to die, leaving behind your children? In Replica, a play by Mickey Fisher, the main character decides to undergo an experimental procedure to try to create a clone of herself so that her children don't have to grow up without her.

But unlike the clones we've seen and read about in the animal world, this replica doesn't have the luxury of being able to take the time to grow up but has to arrive with all the up-to-date memories and experiences of the original with the idea being that she could step right into the mom role with these children.

Stages Repertory Theatre is hosting the world premiere of this work, which has only been work-shopped previously at Cal State Fullerton. Seth Gordon, associate artistic director with The Rep in St. Louis, will return once again to Stages to direct.

Fisher, creator of the television series Extant on CBS, Mars on National Geographic and the upcoming Reverie which premieres on NBC on May 30, wrote this play for his girlfriend of 20 years, Julie Cardia who needed, she says, a play she could take out on the road with her sister Janna to regional theaters.

In real life, Julie and Janna Cardia are identical twins, mirror images of each other, split right down the middle at about nine weeks in the womb they say, so that one is left-handed and one right. "We used to be one person," Janna says.

In an interview at Stages they both discussed what it's like to be twins and the concept of replicating human beings. Their conversation frequently intertwined, although they assured us since they think so alike there won't be any problem if one of their quotes is attributed to the wrong twin.

"In this particular story, Harper is 39, going to be 40," Julie says. "The doctor has figured out a way to transfer all thoughts, memories, feelings, emotions into another human being."

There's plenty of glitches along the way, including a moral one for Harper. What happens if the replica doesn't work out? If it is defective in some way? To get to this point there has been lots of experimentation; what happened to the other replicas that weren't quite good enough? It seems that the replica must be eased into reality to avoid a seizure, a psychotic break.

"What's fun to think about — she has the first scene and then I don't come on until later — is to sit backstage and think about seeing 'Janna', seeing myself and the weird thing [it was] just kind of spying on myself," Janna says.

The 90-minute one act builds in intensity especially during the 48 hours Harper gets to meet the replica who will carry on her life with her children. "Harper is really rooting for the replica," Julie says. "Like with any surgery there's this hope that if this works ... it's so thrilling."

Performances are scheduled for  May 23 through June 10 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information call 713-527-0123 or visit $25-$59.
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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