Chicago Theatre Review

Chicago Theatre Review

Timeline Theatre: It Takes Two

February 12, 2014 Reviews Comments Off on Timeline Theatre: It Takes Two

The How and the Why – Timeline Theatre

As much about the relationship between two women of different generations as it is about the challenges of being taken seriously in a male-dominated profession, Sarah Treem’s intriguing drama bristles with the tension of hidden secrets. This play, set the night before a prestigious national science convention, focuses on Zelda, a prominent evolutionary biologist nearing the end of her career, and Rachel, a 28-year-old scientist just starting out in the same field. Zelda has achieved prominence among her male counterparts for her Grandmother Hypothesis, a real scientific theory that’s best summed up in the well-known phrase, “It takes a village.” Rachel has developed a radical new theory explaining new reasons why only female human beings menstruate. But this two-act drama, despite its abundance of information and lengthy scientific discussions, is really about the connection between two headstrong women.

HowAndWhy_1950thumbDirector Keira Fromm keeps a tight rein on this play. She smartly allows the story to unfold while continually propelling her actresses forward. Act I, set in Zelda’s Massachusetts office, unfolds gently, gradually revealing more and more information about these ladies at every turn. A mystery emerges and its resolution closes the act. But that’s only the beginning: the second act, set the following evening in a sleazy Bostonian bar, offers up more conflict and new, startling information. Still, despite its heavily scientific background, its the relationship between two women of different generations that audiences will take with them.

TimeLine company member and multi-Jeff Award nominee Janet Ulrich Brooks delivers yet another excellent performance as Zelda. Ms. Brooks grounds the play and keeps it on course. She’s the purveyor of information as well as the calm voice of reason against Elizabeth Ledo’s volatile Rachel. Whenever Ledo’s multi-layered Rachel loses her temper and is about to terminate their relationship, it’s Brooks who grabs hold and refuses to let go. These two exemplary actors are extraordinary in this love match, a struggle of wills that provides a masterclass in acting, which is the best reason for seeing this play.


Reviewed by Colin Douglas

Presented February 6-April 6 by TimeLine Theatre Company, 815 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago.

Tickets are available by calling the box office at 773-281-8463 or by visiting their website at

Additional information about this and other area productions can be found at


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