How different would the world have looked had the Nazis been the first to build an atomic bomb? Werner Heisenberg, one of Hitler's lead nuclear scientists, famously and mysteriously met in Copenhagen with his colleague and mentor, Niels Bohr, one of the founders of the Manhattan Project. Michael Frayn's Tony Award-winning drama imagines their reunion. Joined by Niels' wife, Margrethe, these three brilliant minds converge for an encounter of atomic proportions.
An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:
Alfred Molina as Niels Bohr
Shannon Cochran as Margrethe Bohr
David Krumholtz as Werner Heisenberg
Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded before a live audience at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in November, 2011.
Copenhagen is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.
©2012 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2012 L.A. Theatre Works
This LA Theatre Works performance concerns three characters: the eminent Danish physicist Niels Bohr, his wife Margrethe, and the German physicist Werner Heisenberg (famous for his Quantum Uncertainty Principle). Shortly after Nazi Germany has conquered Denmark, Heisenberg travels from Germany to pay a visit to Bohr, his former mentor and teacher. Heisenberg's motives for the visit are unclear -- possibly to obtain Bohr's advice on how to build an atomic bomb, to warn the Jewish Bohr of the coming Nazi threat to his safety, to somehow tip off the Allies to Germany's ongoing atomic weapon research . . . or maybe something else. The themes presented are highly intelligent and thought provoking, raising unresolved questions of personal loyalty, scientific ethics and limits of personal courage when living in nations controlled by dark totalitarian forces. The play focuses on the tensions, mysteries and personal dynamics of this historically important visit. Many important ethical questions are raised and left unresolved for the listener to ponder afterwards. What are the ethical obligations of scientists during wartime when the stakes are as high as they were during World War II? The acting, dialogue and production values are first rate. Highly recommended!
As the savvy reader may suspect this work revolves around whether or not one man spoke to another in the midst of war and passed on a warning.
A taught interesting discussion between two giants of history and science debates the morals of necessity and war and the foibles of memory.
Well worth the price of admission with excellent nuanced performances by all parties.
"Somewhat experimental but interesting"
This small play has an experimental feel. Not only is it a hypothetical view of historic conversations between theoretical physicists but the characters are revisiting their lives from the grave and repeating the main scene with different interpretations. As a piece of experimental theatre I am not convinced it is a great success but as an intelligent and well written historical perspective it is worth listening to, especially for someone like me who likes physics.
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