The Rufus Equation

nytheatre.com review by Mel House
August 17, 2013

If you could predict the future with 100% accuracy, would you want to? Would that mean that nothing in the universe is truly random? Even love?

The Rufus Equation, produced by ABS Productions and Dena Cubbin, explores such questions in this quick-paced fun new comedy about love and physics.

The Rufus Equation is set in and just outside of Bert’s office in the future, specifically next December. Physicist Bert Rufus (Geoffrey Arend) is working on an equation to cheat chaos theory by both predicting the future and influencing it. Bert’s a likable guy, but not terribly smooth with the ladies. For years he has been pining away for Alys (Kristin Villanueva), a colleague at the East Coast university where he hopes to become a tenured professor. However, Rand (Chris Kipiniak), a tenured professor, is working on an equation much like Bert’s and seems to be getting some traction with his equation and the girl of Bert’s dreams. This triplet seem to make the first of three spooky entanglements in Ted Cubbin’s comedy.

Bert hopes his equation, and an invention that he creates to test his theory, will allow him to find out if there is love in his future. He shares the office with work-horse Freddie (Dave Quay), who insists that there is nothing more important than the progress of science. He dreams of the rush he will feel one day when he has a major scientific breakthrough. Freddie’s wife, Eve (Joy Farmer-Clary), wishes he would look at her the way that he looks at his equations. Eve will go to any length, including learning about universal forces, to get Freddie’s attention. Can Bert’s invention save Freddie’s marriage?

When famed physicist Ed Wilson (Pierre Epstein) visits the campus, each character might just get what she or he is after. Or at least, learn something profound about the nature of love and science. In a clever and beautiful final scene, Ed tells the story of meeting Einstein. Cubbin pulls us into a wormhole—shortcuts through space and time—and manages to demonstrate a quantum entanglement (in which particles separated by light-years can still instantaneously appear to remain connected).

Ted Cubbin’s The Rufus Equation may well be the smartest comedy premiering at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival. The writing is so good that I was surprised to learn that this is Ted’s first play, though he is a theatre veteran. I was not surprised to learn that he studied physics at Princeton and practiced at NASA. While The Rufus Equation is packed with scientific theories and lingo, Ted’s fun and pithy writing is accessible to all. I was especially delighted by the performances of Geoffrey Arend and Pierre Epstein. Directed by Tom Ridgely and with a strong cast and production team in place, The Rufus Equation is one of the most polished and professional Fringe shows I’ve seen.

I predict that this show will engage your curiosity and funny bone.

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