Review: Completeness

Computer science and molecular biology meet cute in this geeky treat.

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  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

    Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

    Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

    Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

    Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

Photograph: Joan Marcus

Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

Completeness at Playwrights Horizons

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Too much of a good thing is bad, and too much of a bad thing is Congress. But what about when you have a value-neutral but overused thing—namely, employing scientific phenomena as a metaphor for relationships—repeated and reexamined to an exhaustive degree? Then you have too much of a dangerous thing, and that can accumulate into something interesting. Itamar Moses's nerd-sweet romance Completeness is the ballad of computer-science grad student Elliot (Karl Miller) and budding molecular biologist Molly (Aubrey Dollar). Ballads aren't haiku, so their tentative attempt at love, one paralleled by their respective areas of research, plays long and with frequent refrains: How can we know from the outset if a relationship will work? How can we keep experimenting when experiments do so much damage? (Meredith Forlenza and wonderful Brian Avers play multiple roles as peripheral, damaged parties.)

Moses seems intent on tracing every vector of his characters' self-aware hurt, even to the point of exhaustion. Some of the confessions sound ripped from diary pages—long exhumations of old pain. In the same maximalist tenor, Moses keeps technical details realistically complex. These students explain instead of woo—Molly laughs at Elliot for using a computational intractability problem as his A material—so it's lucky that flexing erudition is incredibly seductive. David Zinn's set opens in successive leaves like a textbook on its end; Pam MacKinnon's direction affords a wonderfully generous sense of time and ease. You can imagine this same scenario ground down into an efficient, soulless 90 minutes; luckily, this research team opted to prove its point the long way.

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Playwrights Horizons. By Itamar Moses. Dir. Pam MacKinnon. With ensemble cast. 2hrs 20mins. One intermission. See complete event information

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