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Theater Wit’s “Completeness” fit for the college crowd

Grant Myatt

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It seems the word ‘theater’ often scares away college students. Whether there’s a disconnect of interest or misconceptions of the craft, not all theater is so cut and dry (as many seem to assume). Theater Wit’s production of “Completeness” is a show that speaks to a young audience that can surely relate on one level or another.

This romantic-comedy takes a fresh look at young love between two graduate students. The pacing and humor is reminiscent of some rom-com TV shows that many students probably watch day to day. Granted, the show is no episode of “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother,” but entertaining nonetheless.

Computer science graduate student, Elliot works away in a computer lab when he sees Molly, a biology grad student making her way in. In an awkward exchange, he offers to help Molly with her protein experiment by creating a computer algorithm to improve efficiency.

Blaming ‘timing,’ Elliot leaves his current girlfriend, Lauren, while Molly works her way out of an awkward affair with her faculty advisor. Immediately, Elliot and Molly’s relationship takes off fast in a constant pull between love and reason. Consumed by their grad schoolwork, the mindless banter toward the beginning is priceless, and the social awkwardness carries throughout.

Much like attempting to make sense of the traveling salesman problem, both Elliot and Molly have a hard time navigating their relationship. As Elliot aims to complete the algorithm, both struggle to feel complete emotionally as the initial excitement wears off. But, as playwright Itamar Moses says, “If love brings infinite possibilities, how can we ever be complete?”

Matt Holzfeind and Kristina Valada-Viars as Elliot and Molly respectively create a dynamic duo that nail both the complex banter of computer science and proteins, while seamlessly heating it up during more intimate moments. Valada-Viars from the Broadway production of “August Osage County” nails the complex and passionate Molly. While Holzfiend, a familiar Chicago face from Bailiwick Chicago’s “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” grounds the show as the light-hearted and witty Elliot.

Without a doubt, what makes this show work is the pacing. Between the fast, intense moments to the slower, thoughtful moments, this variety keeps the show moving. Along with the underlying theme of the traveling salesman problem as a hilarious metaphor, it keeps you thinking without being overly complicated- again, great for a college audience.

Directed by Theater Wit’s Artistic Director, Jeremy Wechsler, the show is technically sound. The set design by Joe Schermoly and projections by Michael Stanfill add another level of complexity to the production bringing to life the technology theme.

In the end, the real characters of “Completeness” create a refreshing and believable look at young love, offering something relatable to a college audience. After all, Theater Wit is only a short trip north from the Lincoln Park Campus.

Performances of “Completeness” run through March 24, 2013 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.  For tickets and information, visit TheaterWit.org or call 773.975.8150. 

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The Student News Site of DePaul University
Theater Wit’s “Completeness” fit for the college crowd