In Play Reviews

The How and Why of all things, past,

And present, and forevermore.  

from Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millaythehowandthewhy_karentrumbogwendolyduffy_creditowencarey


In CoHo Productions’ latest offering, The How and the Why by Sarah Treem, two women, one in her late twenties and one much older, face off in an office over a lingering but awkward handshake. As they sit, and then stare at one another for a long, uncomfortable moment, the audience feels their familiarity, not to mention something that might be suppressed anger. What the hell is going on?

And then they start talking about science. Evolutionary biology. Menstruation. Zelda (Karen Trumbo), the elder woman, is an eminent scholar in her field best known for her Grandmother Hypothesis. Rachel (Gwendolyn Duffy) is a graduate fellow in evolutionary biology and just learning her chops. She has come up with a remarkable theory regarding toxic sperm and wants to discuss it with the expert in her field.

But, as we learn, there is another agenda going on here…one that is much trickier than mere evolutionary biology.

What we have is a remarkable story about the relationship between two women. Each, in her own way, is an intellectual. Zelda is a boundary breaker and has been all her life. Aside from her scholastic prowess, Rachel at age 28 is a lost 14-year-old. The dialog and dynamics between the two, artfully directed by Philip Cuomo, deliver an evening of sizzling drama.

This should come as no surprise when one reads Sarah Treem’s biography. She cut her teeth at the Yale School of Drama, and is a well -known writer and producer of television series (The Affair, In Treatment, How To Make It In America, House of Cards) as well as several full-length plays.

CoHo Productions’ line-up of plays is interesting and not particularly mainstream. The theatre’s mission is to broaden perspectives and cultivate empathy through “vibrant and intimate theatrical productions”. There is powerful work being done in this small venue. If you haven’t seen a play there, I strongly recommend it.

The How and the Why runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through November 19. Photo by Owen Carey.

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