The How and the Why, a theatrical piece written by Sarah Treem, and directed by Emily Mann, made its world premiere at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ, and is running through February 13th. It is a two woman, thought-provoking drama about an up and coming evolutionary biologist meeting an authority in her field and going head to head with her just before a major conference. The subjects of biology, careers, relationships, and love are brought up in heated conversations.
First, I have to say that Mann’s choice of this play is brilliant for the Princeton area! Though The How and the Why will appeal to many, it will surely attract the strong and intellectual women of the region. I must admit, I’ve been to a number of shows recently, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to the theater to see a dramatic performance. The How and the Why is just what I needed to stimulate profound thoughts, and to exercise my brain to think outside the box.
Tony and Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl plays the established scientist Zelda Kahn, and Bess Rous is the graduate student Rebecca, who meets with the tenured Harvard professor to discuss their relationship, and more. Ruehl’s mannerisms were wonderful. She’s a feminist, a leader in her profession, and yet awkward around her younger counterpart. Rous plays a convincing, head-strong student. She’s an ambitious young woman who thinks being female in her field is a handicap, and blames any failure on it. Both women are struggling to balance their professional and personal lives.
The tension can be felt between the two, and the twists and turns in the conversations are at times anticipated, but mostly unpredictable. I loved the dynamics between the two characters, and found it remarkable how the Ruehl and Rous could believably pull off conversations about evolutionary biology in a live performance. Not only is the choice of this play for Princeton brilliant, but so are the performances. I highly recommend The How and the Why not only to women, but anyone who wants to sink their teeth into a well written, directed, and acted play.
There’s an After Hours Party on Friday, January 21st after the 8 PM performance. There will be an open bar, catered food, door prizes, and possible cast sightings. It’s tagged as a Girls Night Out, and I think it would be the perfect way to spend a Friday night!