BWW Review: A MISUNDERSTANDING - A Must For Evolution Theorists
A MISUNDERSTANDING/by Matt Chait/directed by Elina de Santos/Ruby Theatre @ The Complex/thru February 3, 2019
Aficionados of evolution theory debating will be mesmerized by the world premiere of playwright Matt Chait's A MISUNDERSTANDING. Others will be most appreciative of the four actors' deep commitments to their respective characters and very lengthy speeches. The technical terminology of opposing theories of evolution - Darwin and creative - abound in Chait's script of a fired biology professor being given a second chance at returning to the college he was unceremoniously let go from. These evolution debates take over every scene, whether in the re-instatement hearings of the ousted professor Bertram Cates, championed by his former colleague and biology department head Joshua Brownstein; or over the dining table of Melinda Brownstein and her fiancé Howard Blair. In A MISUNDERSTANDING (directed by Elina de Santos), character development (and a plot point of Professor Cates' student Matthew Brady's suicide) get short-shifted by the constant technical jargon.
Playwright Chait plays Cates as a very passionate, tunnel-visioned, scientific genius. Amy-Helene Carlson and Dennis Renard ably essay Melina and Howard as a young flirty couple supposedly in love, in spite of their major differences. Bruce Katzman fares best of the cast as department head Joshua Brownstein, keen on winning back his dismissed professor and the probable accompanying grant and recognition Cates' ground-breaking research would garner. Aside from his mastery of the hypotheses lingo, Katzman charmingly reveals Joshua's vulnerability and paternal feelings for his daughter Melinda in a quiet, intimate scene near the play's end.