‘Heisenberg’ Theater Review: Mary-Louise Parker Shines Taut Relationship Study
Werner Heisenberg, the father of the quantum physics’ Uncertainty Principle, lends his name to Simon Stephens‘ play Heisenberg which opened today at the 660-seat Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway making the move from a 150-seat off-Broadway venue. While the title suggests a heavy slog, the stripped-down production offers relatively simple truths about relationships. The seemingly mismatched couple of Georgie (Mary-Louise Parker), a forty-something American in London who can’t stop revealing things about herself, and Alex (Denis Arndt), a reserved 75-year-old Irish butcher, are actually perfect for each other.
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Despite their age difference, Georgie pursues Alex talking a mile a minute in epic monologues, pouring forth her soul. The intimate production, which places some of the audience on risers on the stage creating a virtual theater in the round, seems almost like a voyeuristic glimpse into an uncomfortable relationship. At moments, it seems that Georgie is only after Alex’s money to fund a trip to visit her estranged son in New Jersey. The set consisting of two metal tables and chairs forces the audience to focus on the rich performances of Parker and Arndt as they engage in their relationship dance.
Stephens, who previously adapted the novel The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time for the stage, eventually tips his hand on title. The Uncertainty Principle refers to the fact that it’s impossible to measure the position and speed of an object at the same time. In other words, everything is relative. “If you watch something closely enough you realize you have no possible way of telling where it’s going or how fast it’s getting there,” Georgie says near the end of the play. So too with relationships, everything is random, but that’s love’s peculiar beauty.
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