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BWW Review: THE HOW AND THE WHY Explores a Challenging Relationship Between Two Professional Women Personally Intertwined

As the eighth production of Little Fish Theatre's 2016 season, THE HOW AND THE WHY written by Sarah Treem, the Emmy-nominated House of Cards writer and producer, continues through September 1, 2016 on select Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8:00pm. The production is directed by Danielle Ozymandies and features Natalie Beisner and Mary Wickliffe . This powerful foursome joins forces to create a deeply intelligent and emotional examination of what it takes to succeed in a man's world and with each other, especially after secrets between them are revealed. It's a fresh and fascinating take on two women biologists - one near the end of her career, and the other whose is just beginning.

The play begins on the evening of an illustrious conference when a promising evolutionary biologist battles for the truth with an esteemed leader in the field. As they thrash out their views, the women attempt to find the middle ground between research and relationships. It's a smart, densely textured work confronting the choices that women of every generation still face, family, and survival of the fittest.

Two new faces to Little Fish Theatre audiences make up the cast. Zelda, the famous evolutionary biologist who hypothesizes that menopause is an evolutionary advantage that points to why women outlive men, is played by Mary Wickliffe. As a leader in the field of evolutionary biology, she's had an uphill battle to prove her worth to the community and has finally achieved some recognition - but at what cost? From her first moments onstage, it's easy to tell something it wrong with her but not quite what as she seems forgetful for someone so intelligent. It's not until near the end of the play that she reveals the diagnosis that has changed her life.

When gifted grad student Rachel, (played by Natalie Beisner), keeps her appointment with Zelda to discuss her own revolutionary theory, it's the classic push me-pull you battle that sizzles from the underlying emotional current that keeps pulling them apart and then back together. Rachel's deep need for recognition and approval almost creates a reason for her to get up and run out as fast as she can for fear of making a fool of herself, effective ending whatever career she hoped would soon be hers. After long discussions which I found very difficult to fully understand in terms of their scientific work, their true personal relationship is revealed which changes everything. Can these two strangers effectively learn to be a real family?

Both actors have the stamina and talent to command the stage throughout the play, often just sitting and verbally challenging each other for intellectual domination. The intensity of the language can be challenging, and it was especially difficult during a matinee with the heat outside overpowering the Little Fish cooling system. This is one show much better to see on a cool evening when your attention on the dialogue won't be distracted by trying to keep yourself from nodding out as their banter gets more and more technical.

"This is a deeply personal script for me, " states director Ozymandias, "and these are voices we haven't heard before and theories which will make people think. It's our challenge - and what a wonderful challenge it is - to bring these brilliant feminist theories to life. With this amazing cast and incredible script, we're more than ready." So put your thinking cap on and head out to Little Fish Theater at 701 Centre Street in downtown San Pedro and enjoy watching two brilliant women on opposite ends of their careers learn what it takes to find a common middle-ground, especially when deciding what really makes a family.

THE HOW AND THE WHY continues through September 1 on select Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8:00pm, with two Sunday matinees on August 14 and August 21 at 2:00pm. Tickets are $27 general and $25 senior. Box Office opens at 7pm, doors to the theatre open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8pm. Please note there will absolutely be no late seating for this production. Tickets can be ordered by calling 310.512.6030.

Photos by Mickey Elliott

Grad Student Rachel (Natalie Beisner) makes her case regarding her revolutionary new theory about the evolution of woman to biological scientist Zelda (Mary Wickliffe)

Grad Student Rachel (Natalie Beisner) explains her revolutionary new theory about the evolution of woman to biological scientist Zelda (Mary Wickliffe)

Biologist Zelda (Mary Wickliffe) and grad student Rachel (Natalie Beisner) debate their competing views on the evolution of women

Zelda (Mary Wickliffe) tries to calm Rachel (Natalie Beisner) during a panic attack

Zelda (Mary Wickliffe) and Rachel (Natalie Beisner) take a moment to reflect on their life paths.

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From This Author Shari Barrett