Theatre Mirror Reviews - Copenhagen"

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note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Larry Stark


by Michael Frayn
Directed by Jake Scaltreto

Producer Coriana Hunt Swartz
Scenic Design by James Hayward/Jake Scaltreto
Scenic Design Consultant Nate Kruback
Sound Design by Chris Larson
Sound Design Assistance Kyle Lampe
Lighting Design by Matt Breton
Costume Design by Cara Chiarmonte
Graphic Design by Amelia Fountain
Electricians Stewart Holmes/Devon James
Technical Director Karen Hart

Dramaturg David N. Rogers
Dialect Coach Devon James
Light Board Operator Devon Jones
Sound Board Operator Stewart Holmes
Stage Manager Amy Lehrmitt


Werner Heisenberg...Kevin Kordis
Neils Bohr....Matthew Zahnzinger
Margarethe Bohr......Emily Hecht

A Review by Larry Stark

When I first moved to Cambridge I lived with a couple --- an astronomer and a geologist --- who taught me "Science is what scientists DO!" and impressed me with the deadly serious Fun their scientist-lives could be. The passionate dedication and excitement with which serious scientists live is eloquently examined in Michael Frayn's brilliant play, brought eloquently to life at The Factory by The Flat Earth Theatre Company. "Copenhagen" gets bigger and more fascinating every time I see it.

The play centers on the years 1927 to 1941, when mentor Neils Bohr and student Werner Heisenberg (later joined by Erwin Schrödinger) argued Quantum Mechanics into existence --- in Copenhagen Denmark. Director Jake Scaltreto and Designer James Hayward have circled the audience in concentric rings about a black disc, round which the cast circles and cris-crosses constantly, much the way electrons swirl continually about the nucleus of an atom. This restless activity is merely one of a myriad of interlocking metaphors through which Frayn both explains abstruse principles of atomic physics, and defines the deadly moral implications of the physicists' real-world decisions.

In 1941 Denmark had been overrun and occupied by Hitler's Nazis; at that point Werner Heisenberg --- deemed "a white jew" and thus spared the export or execution that decimated the forefront of German theoretical physics --- came to ask his old mentor a moral question: Does a scientist have the right to help his beloved homeland build a weapon that will incinerate thousands of human beings?

The pair are each unique scientific types. Kevin Kordis plays Heisenberg, an instinctive innovator for whom the bottom-line is "It works!" --- i.e., the math proves the point. Matthew Zahnzinger's Bohr demands the philosophical implications of any theory, and insists they must be explained, in words, enough to satisfy his wife Margarethe (Emily Hecht). These three personified points of view weave intertwined metaphors in which science and morality strike sparks from each other like particles in a cyclotron.

This relentlessly restless, engrossing production is blessed by Matt Breton's eloquent lighting, Chris Larson's subtle sound effects, and three lively, fascinating performances. The new year is already blossoming with Memorable productions!


"Copenhagen" (6 - 14 January)
@ The Factory Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
1(617) 752-ARTS (2787)

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide