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LA Theater Review

Completeness

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Heuristic algorithms would hardly seem fodder for a romantic comedy, but Itamar Moses has tried and mostly succeeded in addressing mathematical perspectives and the vagaries of love. The play has clever comic moments, but you need to pay close attention to the dialogue to keep up with the sophisticated computer and math theory.

Elliot (Karl Miller) is the nerdiest of nerds, a slightly awkward grad student with romance on his mind. He recently broke up with his latest girlfriend, Lauren (Brooke Bloom, also playing other characters), in a very detached way. Having spotted another grad student, Molly (Mandy Siegfried), in a computer lab, he uses his computer skills to develop an algorithm for her microbiology yeast experiment. Sex ensues—with tasteful nudity—but both seem to be unable to commit because the future can't be precisely determined.

Moses takes us on a journey forward and backward in the lives of the two protagonists. We see Molly's recent breakup with Don (Johnathan McClain, also playing others), a professor in her department. In attempting to show the relationships with other characters that have led to Molly and Elliot's emotional impairments, Moses belabors the point past where we continue to care about this couple. The latter part of Act 2 is contrived overkill.

Well-controlled timing and pacing allow director Pam MacKinnon to capture the tribulations experienced as Elliot and Molly traverse the rocky path to trust and fulfillment. All four actors acquit themselves well, particularly Miller and Siegfried as they navigate Moses' wordy theoretical philosophizing.

Christopher Barreca's efficiently modern set and Russell H. Champa's lighting design contribute to the sense of sterility that makes Elliot and Molly's love analytical. Gimmicky time warps also produce one-dimensional characterizations. Moses tackles difficult concepts and translates them into stories that challenge the audience to think and evaluate. This production, on balance, delivers a message about human nature that strikes a familiar chord. Its greatest success is in the human equation.

Presented by and at South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa. Apr. 22­–May 8. Tue.–Fri. 7:45 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 2 & 7:45 p.m. (714) 708-5555. www.scr.org.

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