Emotion and intellect collide in the two-character play by Sarah Treem, sharply directed by Shana Gozansky and brilliantly portrayed by veteran Trinity actor Anne Scurria and third year consortium student Barrie Kreinik.
Tillie Grimes’ set projects itself toward the audience, making us feel like we are right in Zelda Kahn’s office and later at an airport bar, where a table and two chairs are all that is needed to set the scene for a powerful second act.
The play begins with an awkward meeting between an experienced biology researcher and a biology grad student who believes she has developed a groundbreaking theory. The age difference plays a part in the relationship between the two women as they verbally fence with each other, shifting from deep intellectual arguments to even deeper personal subjects.
For most of the first act, which at times gets quite academically challenging, you wonder why the two even connected and what is their strong, emotional connection. Treem brilliantly brings the relationship home in the moving second act, as the two women scientists banter over the grad student’s presentation at an important conference presentation.
Rachel (Kreinik) has one powerful idea, whose presentation she wishes to share with her boyfriend. Zelda (Scurria) has a conflicting approach to close personal relationships and academic posturing.
At times, the conversation gets a bit pedantic, but it is always brought back into focus by universal themes of recognition, passion and especially the role of women. That role centers around ideas about menstruation and a woman’s body, with each woman challenging the other’s beliefs and approaches to their work and their personal relationships.
“The How and the Why” is a challenging play, unlike most of the Christmas fluff that has you leaving the theatre humming a carol or two. Good theatre challenges the audience member to think. It is here that Treem’s play excels.
The challenging play is at Trinity’s downstairs theatre through Dec. 30. For reservations call 351-4242.