Precious little is a play written by Madeline George. It is by far one of the most inspiring plays written. The main character, Brodie, is a linguist in her forties who has been artificially inseminated. She attributes her choice to have a child this late in life to her work. Her work requires her to travel a lot mostly to remote areas disallowing her to have a life of her own. She discovers that her unborn child may have a genetic disorder that would prevent it from ever learning language. She encounters several unlikely confidants like her much younger girlfriend, an elderly speaker of a dying language who is studying and an ape at the zoo. These relationships teach her what communication is. She is undecided about what to do with the child if it is found positive for the disorder. She decides to take a test that could clarify the situation.
The first scene is set in the zoo where an ape sits behind a glass display. Zoo guests look at it in amazement and awe. The next setting is in an office or agency with what seems like medical equipment. The stage setting is an important aspect in the play since it legitimizes the dialogue that ensues. If the characters are going to be talking about medical tests, then the stage best look like a hospital or clinic. The design of the stage complements what happens on stage throughout the play.
The play interestingly has only three actors to act out all the roles. Only one character plays a single role. This is Brodie. The reason might be the fact that the play is centered on her. The characters are several, and one might think that they are stretched out thin. That is not the case. The play has been written in such away that no more than three characters can appear on the stage with the exception of the zoo scene. This scene requires that a crowd of onlookers in the zoo be played by one person. It presents a problem as to how one character can achieve the role of a crowd. The direction requires the actor to deliver the lines as “quick pirouettes of thought”, each thought representing a different person in the crowd.
The play celebrates the modern woman and the challenges she is likely to face. The play is a story that should be told to anyone who will listen. It presents to us the independence of the woman. That a woman, just like a man, can also chose their career as the main purpose of life. At forty-two, she has achieved financial and academic stability. Therefore, she feels that she is ready to have a child with a much younger woman with whom she found love. Their agreement to have a child together is the culmination of their love.
In a perfect world, Brodie would not be facing the possibility of giving birth to a child with disability. However, realizing this, she understands that communication does not solely lie in speech. The ape in the zoo, for example, shows limited ability for human beings to communicate with wild animals. Science shows that humans were once apes, and we evolved into perfect creatures of communication. For Brodie, there is a hope for the child. It may learn to speak after all. This concept enhances the theme of communication and evolution. Brody and her girlfriend embody the new family unit. These families constitute same sex couples. These two characters enhance the theme of same-sex marriages that are today a norm.
Character, setting and plot come together to form a completely artistic piece with a relevant message. What seemed random at the beginning of the play was an integral part in making the play become a meaningful work of art. Characters have to communicate to make sense of the setting and enhance the plot. If any one of these production constituents was missing, it would be impossible for the play ‘Precious Little’ to attract the attention and appreciation it so rightly deserves.