Theater on the Edge
by David Auburn
directed by Marco DiGeorge
starring Megan Raitono and Allan White
Barbie took some heat for declaring “Math is HARD!” but until you’ve struggled through elliptic function and modular form theory, you don’t know how hard it really is. And youth helps; the math brain fades after your 20’s. Wunderkind Robert (Barry Wright) should know, he revolutionized three branches of math before he hit 25. But now it’s all downhill for Robert; he’s filling notebooks with gibberish. His loyal daughter Catherine (Raitano) knows; she tries to get a degree in the subject but had to drop out to deal with Robert’s decline. But now he’s dead and the vultures circle. Hopeful, helpful grad student Hal (Barry Wright) offers to help with the stack of nonsensical notebooks, but he MIGHT be cruising to steal a proof from Robert to shore up his fading career. There’s a budding romance, but the facts show Catherine sliding off the sanity ladder as well, and her pushy sister Claire (Elaitheia Quinn) arrives to sell the house, burn the furniture and “help” Catherine, maybe with a little Thorazine chaser.
This script crosses local stages from time to time, and frankly it’s a tough one to pull off without the lecture element overwhelming the human. But the Edge crew pulls it off with Raitano’s break -downs propelling the story from the subjunctive to the active. She enters act one crying and berating the furniture only returning to sanity when she has no choice. Mr. White is confident, loud and demanding but you can tell he loved his daughter when he was sane and clings to that in madness. Bracketing this love / hate romance we find the earnest if slightly shifty Hal; he knows he isn’t changing any worlds and fears a career teaching high school math. That leaves high pressure Claire. Ms. Quinn make it abundantly clear how man sacrifices she’s made unasked, and could Claire have the decency to act a little more pathetic?
What do we learn from this disintegrated series expansion of insanity? While civilians are stumped at processes like long division and addition, the pros stare into an abyss and hope to find cosmic revelations and party hardy when not working. And unlike engineering and medicine, it’s hard to get a good day job with steady pay and a parking spot with a math degree. The concept of intelligence correlates with insanity is brushed upon, but it’s not a theme: the fact is this is a crazy family and their exceptional intelligence is a mere coincidence. But we do get a fun fact: there are over 1511 handmade foam bricks on the stunning set. Go factor THAT, hot shot.