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The Island of Dr. Moreau
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Gr 7 Up-This excellent video is the sixth in a series by Globalstage Productions which has as its mission to travel the world filming the best in children's theater. The adapted script, based on the H.G. Wells' science fiction classic, is faithful to the original except for the creative ending and the framework which allows the shipwrecked character, Pendick, to tell the story as a flashback while being questioned by doctors in the mental institution where he has ended up after being rescued from the island. The play is preceded and followed by a somewhat pedantic discourse by the host, Dr. Elizabeth McHamer. She and her "nephew," Preston, arrive in Seattle by ferry and proceed to the Taproot Theater where the production was filmed before a live audience. The talented cast of male and female actors play multiple roles and do an exceptional job of portraying the "beast-people" of Dr. Moreau's creation. After being hounded out of London, Dr. Moreau has fled to a deserted island where he hopes to have the freedom to conduct unorthodox animal experiments which will create human beings from animals through surgery. The resulting creatures, which can walk upright and speak, but whose intelligence is limited, cause Moreau to believe he is nearing success. The untimely arrival of Pendick changes everything, and the island soon erupts in violence and death. The plot raises many ethical and philosophical questions. How do we define what is human? What separates man from beast? Is it moral to conduct experiments on animals? Does man have the right to play God? The current debate regarding bioengineering adds to the potential for discussion and will increase the video's usefulness for high school humanities classes. The profound themes and occasional violent scenes will limit its use with younger students.-Jerry Beth Shannon, Ropes I.S.D., Ropesville, TX Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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