By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Though the play features just four people, most scenes involve only two, which certainly simplifies things. But Auburn expertly tinkers with the linear structure of his storytelling, giving a dreamy quality to the time and space each scene occupies. We're never quite sure, until deep into a scene, whether we're in present day or years before, or even if all those speaking are alive or dead. The surprises are wonderful.
The small cast turns in impressive, if somewhat quirky, performances. As Catherine, young Jordan Cole, a recent UT-Arlington theater grad, bears a strong resemblance to Mary Louise Parker, who originated the role on Broadway. She's not nearly so annoyingly nasal and mannered, however, and that's a good thing. Cole camouflages her prettiness under floppy hair and shapeless sweaters, allowing her shoulders to soften with the exhausted defeat of a younger sister who's had to bear the burden of a sick parent for far too long. This is a big role for a young actress, and Cole has a firm grasp on its subtleties.
As Hal, the whiz kid, David Wilson-Brown, who's acted recently at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas and Theatre Britain, is as handsome as a young John Saxon. He allows Hal to mature as the play progresses, and his seduction scene with Cole comes off as tender and spontaneous.
Caitlin Tiffany Glass makes a believable, if rigid, older sister. Steven Alan McGaw's Southern twang might be a little thick for Robert, a lifelong Chicago resident, but that's easily overlooked in his otherwise strong performance.
Don't be put off by the math. Playwright Auburn displays a lively and offbeat sense of the absurd. When Hal returns from an academic conference, he tells Catherine he's exhausted from hanging out with the hard-core super-geeks: "It was 48 straight hours of partying, drinking, drugs, conferences and papers."
They do toss out some brainy jargon about game theory and algebraic geometry, but this play is more about relationships and delicate aspects of love, self-sacrifice and trust, the very things that add up to make a life worth living.