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Fri December 7, 2012
Trinity Rep's "The How and the Why" a fascinating drama
By BILL GALE
PROVIDENCE, RI – "The How and the Why," is a crisp, serious play
that's also very funny and beautifully acted. Playwright Sarah Treem hooks into
something called "evolutionary biology." In this case, that turns out to concern
why women menstruate and why they go through menopause.
I know, I know. You're saying what kind of a subject is that for a play?
Well, there is much more and therein lies the problem. I can't really tell you of the
major plot line in "The How and the Why." It would give away too much, not
allow you the intense pleasure of watching a winding, fascinating drama unfold as
two women explore their professional world, and their own lives.
So let's jump into the play - as much as we can. On a spare but effective set by
Tilly Grimes, Zelda, a highly regarded, world renowned professor is in her office,
Enter, a younger woman, Rachel, a Ph d candidate with a major project in her
briefcase and a big chip on her shoulder.
They begin an uneasy conversation. Zelda seems to want to help, to draw out
Rachel. But Rachel sputters and finds disagreement at every turn. The meeting is
becoming an intellectual cat fight, two very smart folks being almost completely
unable to find common ground, despite the fact that science is a be-all and end-all
to both of them.
But "The How and the Why" goes on delving into the science of female
reproduction and how it plays out in the greater world. It looks at the difficulty
even the brightest, most driven female scientists have as they fight their way up
in a scientific culture traditionally, overwhelmingly led by males.
And then there's that other focus I can't let you in on; that's the one that really
seizes the heart.
Directed by Shana Gozansky, a lot of that has to do with the fine, nuanced
performance by Trinity's Anne Scurria. Even as she enters, strong, forward,
carefully suited, Scurria shows a person who is nobody's fool, and nobody to
fool with. But as "The How and the Why" flies on, the actress let's you in on the
professor's emotions as well as her mind. She may be an academic superstar but
she's one of us too. Scurria shows all of her in a very funny, very strong
A third-year MFA student at the Trinity/Brown program, Barrie Kreinik inhabits
the younger Rachel. She makes her strong and arrogant, scared and unsure, a
picture of individual power and personal insecurity.
So, don't worry about being overloaded with science. "The How and the Why" is
really all about being human. Go see it and see if you agree with the play's final
three words. They are spoken by professor Zelda and they resonate, powerfully.
Want to Go?
"The How and the Why" continues at Trinity Rep through December 30th.
Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org.