Now Then Again

After a successful run at Bailiwick Repertory, Chicago playwright Penny Penniston’s comedy about the science of love and destiny has been transferred to the Ivanhoe. Set at Fermilab in Batavia, the play revolves around a hypothesis derived from quantum mechanics, that the future and the past happen simultaneously and can both be altered. Its truth is tested in the relationship between Henry (Joseph Wycoff)–a gifted, socially challenged scientist–and Ginny (Katie McLean), a perky prodigy torn between a brilliant career and a simple life with her childhood sweetheart. At the beginning it appears that their courses are irrevocably set: Henry will continue changing the world of physics, and Ginny will return to North Carolina with her husband. Yet well-meaning janitor Felix (Richard Cotovsky) keeps raving about a nonlinear progression of events that defies everyday logic but may foreshadow what’s to come–or recall what’s already happened. “The big decisions in life aren’t the ones that change the future,” Felix explains. “Changing the future is easy. The big decisions come when you change the past.” Cosmic insight, or delusions brought on by a terminal brain tumor? Therein lies the mystery. Director Jeremy Wechsler and cast make good use of the larger space and higher-tech effects, and the show remains as clever and well executed as ever. The original cast, all present in this production, have deepened the connection to their characters and to the play’s overall rhythm. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 773-975-7171. Through April 30: Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 9 PM; Sundays, 5 PM. $20-$22.

–Kim Wilson

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Tom Gustafson.