The lights in Freedom Hall fade from blackout revealing an eerie, mystical blue. A kind of ethereal, ghastly sense fills the room. The stage is bare, save a table, chairs, and three large windows, indicating the inside of a house. Slowly, the figures of Niels and Margrethe Bohr enter, embracing the space they know and love, reminiscing on the fondest of memories shared in a place they once called home. With a shift of the lights, the pair are launched into a barrage of questions from Margrethe to Niels, imploring him to explain why the German physicist, Werner Heisenberg, should wish to risk his life to pay them a visit in their Danish home. Thus, the drama of Copenhagen begins to unfold on the TWU SAMC Theatre stage.
Written by award winning playwright Michael Frayne, Copenhagen is the dramatization of a curious meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in Denmark in 1941. Both
atomic physicists, both on opposing sides of WWII, both working on the atomic bomb. Being the elder of the two, Bohr acts as a spiritual father for the eager and overachieving Heisenberg. He is a man of caution and experience. Heisenberg is the prodigy, a son in the eyes of Bohr, and a man of talent and passion. Between the two is Margrethe, Bohr’s devoted wife. Although she isn’t regarded as a physicist, she
has had her hand in enough of her husband’s papers to understand the topics discussed, and is not afraid to put the men in their places.
Despite their presence on stage, all three are lingering like ghosts. They are held captive by a question, working to answer why Heisenberg went to Copenhagen in 1941 – an event that may have changed the history of the world as we know it. Frayne expertly weaves together true events from the lives of all three characters, creating a powerful narrative in which friendship, reason, joy, and betrayal parallel the vast intricacies of quantum physics which in turn is made accessible through such parallels. The scientific laws of quantum physics, the workings of the atom, and the mystery of nuclear fission create a foundation on which Frayne builds a powerful image of the complexities of life and relationships. Directed by Lloyd Arnett, who brought the hilarious comedy SMASH to the SAMC stage last fall, Copenhagen is graced by the talents of Steven Simpson (Heisenberg), Emmett Hanly (Bohr), and Jane Oliphant (Margrethe).
Copenhagen is a dramatic masterpiece that is sure to leave the audience with profound insights about life, friendship, and if you’re paying close enough attention, just how uncertain everything truly is.
Onstage: Nov 21 – Dec 2