Sabrina Spalding, Meghan Logue, & Chase Gregory in David Clark’s Schrodinger’s Girl. Photo by Shaun Kenney.
By David Clark
Directed by Patrick Bias
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2016 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Physicist Erwin Schrodinger created a thought problem; a cat imagined as being enclosed in a box with a radioactive source and a poison that will be released when the source (unpredictably), emits radiation, the cat being considered (according to quantum mechanics), to be simultaneously both dead and alive until the box is opened and the cat observed.
Playwright David Clark has created a play that uses the famous paradox as a model for clever storytelling; a series of logic problems presented as a scientific detective story that honors Schrodinger by emphasizing post-modern theatrical conventions.
Genny (Sabrina Spalding), is a scientist with a graduate assistant, Monica (Meghan Logue), who is facing funding cuts that might eliminate her study of brain development in infants. One of the threats comes from the ongoing receipt of small boxes containing infant skulls and, occasionally, a mysterious note. Who is sending them? Monica’s investigatory queries reveal that Genny has an active sex life and that the most likely suspects are three recent dalliances at an academic conference: Adam (Chase Gregory) a nebbish colleague in the same university research department, Smoidgrass (Tony Smith), a nervous, stuttering peer, and Traveler (Jacob Cooper), an anonymous but suave stranger.
As the two women probe the possibilities, the three men appear as devices, avatars of Genny and Monica’s imagination that move and behave according to each new conjectural scenario. Clark is being slyly feminist here, unapologetically letting Genny’s ambition and libido drive the story as well as defining the male characters. Later in the action the men actually enter the scenes, but still more on Genny and Monica’s terms than their own.
One of the pleasures of Schrodinger’s Girl is just watching Sabrina Spalding and Meghan Logue work the text like a tennis match, throwing dialogue and set-ups back and forth with well-judged skill, comic timing, and physical fearlessness. The whole thing is a series of puzzles within puzzles, constructed with just enough complexity to challenge but not overwhelm the audience.
Due credit to the three actors who fill out the suspects, who earn their share of laughs, and are given more fully drawn characters to play in act two. Chase Gregory’s guileless but profane entreaties to Genny, and Tony Smith’s sneaky asides are both especially memorable.
Schrodinger’s Girl is an incredibly smart and inventive comedy and the fourth entry in the First Annual Derby City Playwrights New Play Festival. Each play is getting only three performances, one each weekend, but so far, these full-length scripts have each deserved a full run of its own. Brian Walker and DCP are contributing something to the cultural life of Louisville by developing talent with such care, but we must also be hopeful that these plays will find a life past this festival.
July 9 @ 9:30pm
July 14 @ 7:30pm
July 24 @ 8:00pm
Part of the First Annual Derby City Playwrights Festival
Advanced Tickets: $18 / At the door: $20
Derby City Playwrights
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of PUBLIC on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.