Legacy of Light
Legacy of Light
By Karen Zacarias
Directed by Denise Gillman
Starring Heather Charles, Steven Lane, and Becky Eck
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL</strong>
Here’s a show that opens with a bang and end with a baby’s whimper. Voltaire (Lane) guides his mistress Emilie du Chatelet (Charles) as she unravels the fundamentals of optics by day while her other lover Saint Lambert (Garrett Jurss) fills her evenings with hot sex. M. du Chatelet (Steven Lima) is off fighting a war or invading a Rheinish state and he finds calculus a big turn off, so he’s not terribly bothered by the arrangement. Voltaire and St. Lambert wave swords at each other, nearly spearing an older woman in the first row save for Stephen Jones great stage fight choreography. Meanwhile back in the present day hot shot astrophysicist Olivia (Eck) discovers a proto-planet, fights off ovarian cancer and decided she want s a baby. Her hubby Peter (Lima) is doubtful about this, but they hire a surrogate mother Mille (Lexi Langs) and lay out a schedule to deliver a tot in nine months for $28,000. That’s about $20 an hour, if you ignore all that unpaid OT. Soon both Millie and Emile are pregnant, and we come to the heart of the problem: Olivia has doubts, realizing that the idea of a child is nicer than the reality, and Emilie realizes her days are numbered, and she pushes hard to finish the work she began. So what more important – incrementing the population counter, or giving that population a better life? Maybe you can do both, but it’s not easy.
It seems the author is aiming for a new “Arcadia”, but “Legacy of Light” succeeds best when it shows how male / female relations have shifted in two centuries and fails when exploring how science has changed in that same era. Lane and Charles are the perfect soul mates as they attempt to lasso an understanding of the universe, and Lima and Eck are the perfect yuppie couple who struggle with child rearing as a social statement. Both present believable couples in awkward relations – Voltaire is almost ready to accept the implications of free love, and Lima is equally perturbed by the agreed upon pseudo-infidelity of surrogate motherhood. Where we stumble is in the home work department: Voltaire refers to units not yet invented, Eck’s lecture on astrophysics neglects a basic Wiki read though and Zacharias reduces Olivia to Star Trek techno babble when she announces frustration that “the exponential numbers aren’t working out.” Good thing her turboencabulator is still gronkulating.
Ok, so I’m nit picking. The relations between Peter, Olivia and Millie are touching while Voltaire and St. Lambert and Emilie are equally challenging. Everything is ducky until lighting strikes Peter and he has to explain to Emile how to give him CPR so he can go back and wrap up some unimportant plot points. Are we staging hard rationalism and a Laplacian clockwork universe, or some Fringe Fest theology? Either way, the show seems complete when Peter dies, but Zacarias isn’t quite ready for us to go home. Stick around and enjoy the entertainment, even if the remaining scenes are unnecessary they go by quickly, I recommend “Legacy of Light” for Heather Charles’ smile, Steven Lane’s tolerant sexuality, Becky Eck’s earnestness, Lima’s supportive husbandry, Jones’ fight choreography and everyone’s completely hokey French accents. Just don’t place any bar bets on the history of dark matter.
For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com