By Madeline Schulman
Long Branch — The first mention of “F” during F Theory is as part of a logic problem Ellie (Megan Loughran) and Marianne (Alex Trow) have for homework as college freshman roommates. However, the important “F” in F Theory is Friendship. Along the way there are nods to Family, Female Firefighters, Fat in the Food Pyramid, and Franklin (Benjamin), but Friendship is paramount, as the audience follows Ellie and Marianne through many decades and across the globe.
Sometimes their journey is very funny, and sometimes it is poignant. Sometimes the bonds that hold them together are strong, and sometimes they are frayed, but the theme is always their friendship.
Ellie is a former child television star whose sleazy father has squandered her money, while Marianne’s family owns several shopping malls. Ellie gravitates toward music and Marianne toward the social sciences. In spite of all differences, a force even stronger than their love of Shania Twain unites them.
The word that best describes the play starts with a C, not an F: Clever! Megan Loughran and Alex Trow are as clever as they are beautiful and talented, because they wrote F Theory themselves, and no other playwright could have showcased their talents so expertly. They tap dance! They sing (their own songs, I believe)! Ms. Loughran plays the ukulele like a Hawaiian angel.
Jessica Parks has designed a supremely clever set. A few modular pieces and some images projected on the screens in back of the state change the scene from a college dorm to a New York apartment to a luxury honeymoon cottage and many other locales.
There is a clever solution to presenting more than two characters in a play with only two actors, and another clever solution to the many quick costume changes needed. Even the songs played between scenes are cleverly chosen to illustrate the theme of Friendship. Giving details would prevent theatergoers from discovering the charms of the script, and of Ethan Heard’s direction, for themselves.
F Theory is fun, but at its heart are thoughts of the role of Friendship which are not Frivolous.
F Theory runs through Sept. 24. Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $46 and are available at 732-229-3166 or online at njrep.org.