I hesitate to tell you that "Legacy of Light" contains philosophical musings, references to Voltaire's "Candide," discussion of Sir Isaac Newton's science and a mini-lecture on dark matter.
I hesitate because I fear you will think if you don't have a PhD in literature or physics you should steer clear.
And that would be a shame.
For "Legacy of Light," a quirky look at fulfillment and discovery, is full of charm with a company of actors who often lift their characters beyond the words playwright Karen Zacarias has provided.
Director Denise Gillman wisely takes a very light tone with Zacarias' play, which deals with such heavy subjects as dangerous pregnancy, surrogate motherhood, even tragic death. Zacarias mixes real people such as pioneering 18
-century French scientist Emilie du Chatelet and the great French philosopher-writer Voltaire with a fictitious couple in present-dayNew Jersey.
As the characters directly address the audience or the long-dead French talk to the living Americans, the story takes on a fable-like quality. And Zacarias raises deep questions: motherhood vs. career, leaving the world with a meaningful legacy and the nature of immortality.
With a strong build-up on such weighty matters, the ending disappoints as it veers from truly thoughtful to a rather saccharine
TV-movie finale, everything wrapped up in a conveniently neat bow for the heroines.
But the actors make the ride worthwhile: Lexi Langs is humming with energy as Millie, a young woman who you believe would offer her services as a surrogate mother. Becky Eck, so funny as part of the PB&J Theatre Factory ensemble, shows a delightfully brittle edge tinged with vulnerability as a woman who wants a baby with her head, but maybe not with her heart.
And Steven Lane puts the cocky charm already familiar to Mad Cow audiences who saw him as the rogue in "The Heiress" to good use as the engagingly pompous Voltaire. Crinkling his lip in disdain, spitting his words, dripping with self-importance, he pulls of the tricky feat of remaining completely likeable.
But the show belongs to Heather Charles as the French scientist Emilie. From the moment we meet her — romping with her young lover — she has a fire in her eyes. Her passion equally divided between defending her work and embracing the zesty joy of living, Charles is luminous.
She might make you believe a person can have it all — even immortality.
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'Legacy of Light'
2:15, including intermission
7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and two Mondays, Aug. 8 and 22; 2:30 p.m. Sundays; through Aug. 28
, 105 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando
$27; $25 students and seniors; $15 for Monday shows