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Center Stage

With ‘Completeness’ comes two climaxes

2/6/2013

‘Completeness’ is showing at the Des Moines Community Playhouse from Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 6-9, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 - $29 adults, $20 - $27 seniors (62+) and $20 students.

‘Completeness’ is showing at the Des Moines Community Playhouse from Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 6-9, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 – $29 adults, $20 – $27 seniors (62+) and $20 students.

After a long night of working on a computer algorithm and a tall glass of whisky, Elliot and Molly find themselves unable to resist one another. Molly easily removes Elliot’s shirt while he fumbles to undo the button on her jeans. The auditorium is silent as she seductively pushes him away onto the bed, except for one audience member who can’t contain himself as Molly’s pants hit the floor, involuntarily exclaiming, “Jesus!”                

“Completeness” is the new production playing at the Des Moines Playhouse. Directed by John Viars, executive director at the Playhouse, “Completeness” is a romantic comedy centered on Elliot (Caleb Lubka), a computer science grad student, and Molly (Katy Merriman), a molecular biologist. The two meet in a typical boy-meets-girl fashion and are immediately drawn to one another physically. The rushed relationship that ensues doesn’t deviate much from other rom-coms: There’s a fight, a split, a realization and the classic conclusion — will they or won’t these two end up together?                

The production debuted in May 2011 in California and is seemingly trying to capitalize on the popularity of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory.” Much of the dialogue — described by another senior audience member as “mumbo-jumbo” — between Elliot and Molly is about the profound importance of yeast and the magic of computer algorithms (enough to get anyone hot and bothered). Where “Completeness” shines most is in these actors’ abilities to segue from science chatter to fumbling conversational tics such as “like” and “you know.” The flow seems natural from young adults who have mastered their field of study but haven’t fully matured.                

At times the dialogue among these characters can be trying. A long-winded rant on the Traveling Salesman Problem might be seen as wasted on the audience’s ears. Those who do listen, though, will find themselves rewarded. Though science is the forethought of the conversation, the undertones are what prevail, because, even when they talk of molecular biology and unsolvable math computations, these characters are drawing parallels to their current relationship.             

Eric Lee and Molly Nelson round out the cast for “Completeness” as the lingering significant others who just won’t seem to get out of the minds’ of our leads. Lee is hilarious as Don, the jealous professor who can’t stand the thought of his student in the arms of another man in a different department. Merriman’s Molly is bold and authentic as the girl whose intelligence may or may not have landed her at the university.                

“Completeness” may not be the best play to see while stuck in a rocky relationship, but it is one that will have you talking about it as you exit the theatre. It’s hard to maintain interest with a relationship that’s founded on the mutual attraction to whisky and sex. But with jokes that tackle pregnancy scares, before and after sex (as men try to be as appealing as possible before sex and women try to be appealing after) and what it means to have a real conversation with someone, “Completeness” seems to have something for everyone… except for the kids. Due to mature themes and sexual references, “Completeness” is recommended for ages 16 and older. CV

Barmuda