Now Then Again | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Now Then Again

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Now Then Again, Bailiwick Repertory. The theory of quantum mechanics holds that particles send a constant stream of waves into the past and future simultaneously, opening up the possibility of parallel universes and alternative situational outcomes. Throw in a predestined attachment between two Fermilab scientists, and you have the substance of Penny Penniston's play.

Two brilliant minds randomly come together: neurotic genius Henry (Joseph Wycoff), passionately committed to his work but terrified to talk about it, and gregarious undergraduate Ginny (Katie McLean), full of extraordinary potential but surprisingly content to move back to South Carolina with her husband and teach trigonometry. A congenial janitor (Richard Cotovsky) with a terminal brain tumor can describe the circumstances under which the two have already met and fallen in love--though no one else has any such recollection. Can things possibly work out the way he says they will? Penniston moves the story forward and backward through time to reach a conclusion that's both surprising and predictable.

When we know a play's likely conclusion, the challenge is to make us care how it happens. Given the play's nonlinear progression, it's also important that we don't lose track of the story. This world premiere succeeds on both counts, through sincere, intelligent performances under Jeremy Wechsler's direction and clean, efficient production elements. While a bit schmaltzy, this is a satisfying love story that also explores ideas about time, space, and the universe.

--Kim Wilson

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