Theater Wit: “Completeness”

“Completeness” is about young people falling in and out of love.

There’s nothing new or unusual about that, but these aren’t your typical rom-com protagonists. These are grad students who flirt by launching into detailed lectures on topics like yeast, proteins and data-mining algorithms. Who said science can’t be sexy?

The characters in Itamar Moses’ play, now in its Midwest premiere at Theater Wit, talk about trying to solve research problems so complicated that they seem to require supercomputers—but what they’re really struggling to figure out is how to maintain a romantic relationship.

Computer science major Elliot (Matt Holzfeind) and biology student Molly (Kristina Valada-Viars) occasionally stop talking about their academic pursuits long enough to express their love and lust for each other—and to fling off their clothes and hop into bed. (Be warned: There’s full-frontal female and male nudity here.) But like so many people, they end up either saying too much about what they’re feeling, or not enough.

Director Jeremy Wechsler’s cast (which also includes Rae Gray and Andrew Jessop) believably captures the spark of youthful romance, as well as all of the awkwardness that comes with it. And the play subtly shows parallels between the scientific discourse and the personal relationships.

But Moses’ script goes awry in the second act, with a stunt that breaks down the wall between the actors and the audience, which just distracts us from the persuasive performance up until that point. Fortunately, the actors are able to pull us back into their world for one final, emotionally fraught scene.

 

“Completeness” continues through March 24 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. For tickets and show times, call 773-975-8150 or visit their website.