Monday, September 5, 2011

Why Are Relationships Soooo Hard??

Itamar Moses' Completeness playing at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theatre is a comedy about the romantic relationship between two brainy graduate students - Elliott (a computer scientist) and Molly (a molecular biologist). After meeting in a university computer room, Elliott (the strongest member of this cast played wonderfully by Karl Miller) attracted to Molly (played by Aubrey Dollar) agrees to program an algorithm to help her sort through data related to her yeast experiments.

Originally inspired it seems by the traveling salesman problem according to this interview with Itamar Moses, Completeness spends a great deal of time going through the experiments that these two scientist are working on. Equations are scribbled all over the set. At the performance I saw a few days ago, the set blew out temporarily when a computer program projected on the stage is suppose to go haywire; two of the actors - Meredith Forlenza and Brian Avers - broke character, returned to the stage, and chatted with the audience until the technical issues were addressed.

During intermission, I overheard an audience member say that he was a bit lost with all the algorithms. While understandable, overall, I like this "geeky" comedy - algorithms, yeast experiments and all - and think that the play works best when it deals with directly not so much science but the awkwardness of meeting, dating, being romantic for the first time, and openly admitting that you are in love when your heart has been broken in the past.

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