Hollywood Fringe 2017
Astrophysics and family connecting like protons and electrons.
Walking into the theater for Quantum Entanglement, written by Katelyn Schiller, the audience is welcomed by a calming, analog scientific work station complete with a telescope, celestial sphere, small television monitors, and several jars of glowing, colored light. Most of these items are never touched during the show, but they serve as a beautiful backdrop for this sweet story of self-discovery and a family in disarray told through the lens of quantum physics.
The title concept describes the idea that particles that become “entangled” with each other can be separated as far as to opposite sides of the universe and still be intimately connected. It’s a romantic notion that forms the basis of the story on a scale more familiar to our own.
At first, the audience is greeted by the family’s astrophysicist patriarch (Payden Ackerman) who takes his time to schmooze with nearly everyone as they are all stars that he’s had the pleasure to meet in the past. He’s always been very involved in his work, so much so that it’s often kept him at a distance from his warm and introspective wife Monroe (Amanda Zarr). Meanwhile, Andromeda (Schiller) spends much of the play desperately trying to bridge the gaps between her family.
Amanda Zarr is absolutely terrific as the missing mother looking for meaning within the darkness. Loving, but independent, Zarr deftly makes us empathize with Monroe’s own journey while at the same time filling us with hope that she can be found. Payden Ackerman is pitch-perfect as the father and makes for an affable counterpoint to Katelyn Schiller’s Andromeda: She cares too much, digging deep to find answers, while he doesn’t care enough, perhaps due to some social ineptitude. The family cat (brought to life by puppeteer Amy Shine) thankfully sticks to acting like a normal cat, working more as a moving set piece with at least one moment of function.
As intriguing and lovely as the story is, the show’s pace often gets deflated by an overabundance of pregnant pauses and takes some of its majesty with it.
But Director Shane Wood does a fine job keeping the stage busy with action: the cat, the jars of light, and Zarr slowly wandering through her own quantum abyss. You don’t need to be a brilliant scientific genius to enjoy the show, but I’m sure there’s an easter egg or two in there if you are one. And if you’re the kind of person who fills with wonder while stargazing away from the lights of the city, then this is the show for you. ZACHARY BERNSTEIN