Home > thru 7/26--"The How and the Why" (review)
thru 7/26--"The How and the Why" (review)

Short Description of thru 7/26--"The How and the Why" (review)

Shakespeare & Co

Kemble Street

Lenox, MA


Shakespeare and Company opened its 2015 season with Sara Treem’s two-woman play “The How and the Why,” a delectable, non-stop soliloquy about relationships and the complexities of life as told through the eyes of a young woman hunting for answers and her older counterpart willing to give them.

The play stars Bridget Saracino as Rachel, a young, aggressive, highly intelligent Biology doctorate student at NYU. She is passionate and energetic, yet also evokes an effortless blend of insensitivity, arrogance, pride, and, at times, even cruelty. Rachel's counterpart is Tod Randolph (Zelda), an older Doctor of Biology. Young and old, wise and questioning, the questions of life are about to go on display in a two- plus hour riveting performance that is as fabulous as a play can get. Yes, this work is that good.

[Photo courtesy Photo by John Dolan]

The scene opens with a meeting between Rachel and Zelda in Zelda’s office, where our characters meet for the very first time. Rachel wants to pursue her theory that menstruation is, as she puts it, “a defense against the toxicity of sperm.” Read on: This theory is not a feministic assault on men. Dust the cover off, and what unravels is a compelling and complex story of a young woman in love who is trying to find her way in the world and comes to the older Zelda for reasons which become apparent as this piece progresses.

The How and the Why is always concerned with the mechanism and function of life, and not just science. It is an extremely detailed and interesting study of a young woman who is coming to grips with her own vulnerability. During the course of the meeting between the two women in the first act, Zelda, a highly acclaimed scientist, attempts to guide the young Rachel into accepting her genius and offers to present her to an upcoming international body of scholars. As she is prodded and pushed to speak, Rachel becomes at times passionate about her goals and her article, yet complicates her situation with her lack of security and her need to drag her boyfriend into the presentation. The first act is genuinely a mix between the two women, older and younger, who are developing the relationship that both will develop later.

The second act is set in a small restaurant and occurs after Zelda has gone to Austria and returned. Rachel is incensed because she feels she was humiliated at the conference, and that she was castigated by several people for her lack of sufficient research.

The play touches all of the issues that one would expect with a passionate, energetic, at times selfish young woman meeting an older, sophisticated, sensitive older colleague. The conflict here is immediate and intense, but like a Stradivarius, only as good as the people playing it. The acting here is superb. Randolph is simply sensational, stepping into her role with unwavering depth. Her character is so believable that by the end of the play, it is inconceivable to think of her as anyone other than the character she plays. Saracino as Rachel plays her part beautifully, but it is Randolph as Zelda-- older, matured, seasoned-- who illuminates the stage, just as you would expect her character to. In a word, she is marvelous. During one of the most poignant moments of the play, one is so connected with her that it is difficult not to come to tears.

The depths of the human condition are all here, played out fabulously, played out the way Shakespeare & Co does it best: Maturity and wisdom, dreams and magic, experience and knowledge, youth versus old age.

A bit long, the play is approximately 100 minutes, Act 1 is 45 minutes, Act 2 is 55 minutes, amd each could be about 5 minutes shorter. Shakespeare and Company has officially set the bar for great theater.

-Steve Coffey, didyouweekend.com

Steve Coffey is a Senior Litigation Partner at O'Connell & Aronowitz

from shakespeare.org:


by Sarah Treem
Directed by Nicole Ricciardi
May 22 – July 26
Bernstein Theatre
Cast: Tod Randolph, Bridget Saracino

Two brilliant female scientists meet on the eve of a national conference and find themselves clashing over their views on men and women, love and conflict, genes and destiny. From the writer of House of Cards and In Treatment, this quick-witted, award-winning drama will have audiences questioning their ideas about sex.



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