As much as I admire strong young women, being the father of one, an impediment to my fully enjoying this play is that the character of Rachel is, well, pretty horrific. Of course, it's understandable that she would be seething with resentment at her abandonment, but the person we see is not only obnoxious and unflinchingly nasty, she is recurringly self-deluded, which makes us doubt her purported skills as an objective scientist. Kreinik plays her with credible intensity, but an audience member would be forgiven for wishing that her next panic attack — which Zelda dutifully cures — would render her unconscious for a while. For her part, Scurria's Zelda is a model of maternal forbearance, yet an occasional she's-fraying-my-last-nerve flicker would have made this mother more recognizably human.

Nevertheless, The How and the Why is a skillful accomplishment. Any play that lectures without a blackboard and keeps you nodding rather than nodding off is to be admired.

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