Heisenberg Review - The Eccentricities of the Lonely

If you’re wondering about the name of this play, or even not, then physicist Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle may just apply. His theory suggests that “the fundamental limit to how well one can simultaneously know the position and momentum of a particle” doesn’t fit into this piece at all – or does it? What exactly is it that draws particles – or people – together, and how fast or slow does that attraction proceed? Or perhaps are those questions by their very nature unknowable? Playwright Simon Stephens has taken this heady material and woven it into everyday, commonplace events and people.

Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker - Photo by Craig Schwartz

HEISENBERG tells the story of two quirky strangers, Georgie Burns (Mary-Louise Parker) and Alex Priest (Denis Arndt), who happen to brush by each other at a London train station. The story should end there – but it doesn’t. When Georgie up and kisses Alex on the back of his neck, everything changes. Does Alex remind her of her dead husband – or is she just a little bit nuts? And very lonely.

Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker - Photo by Craig Schwartz

As it happens, a rather peculiar relationship begins to develop between Alex, an isolated bachelor butcher in his late 70’s, and the imaginative Georgie, in her mid-40’s with a strong tendency to blurt out thoughts before her brain is on board. Georgie’s dialog is sometimes difficult to understand due to an apparent speech impediment, and her motives are even cloudier and harder to decipher. That said, check your expectations at the door and just enjoy the raw and unedited thoughts that these two characters convey.

Mary-Louise Parker - Photo by Craig Schwartz

If you’re the kind of person who can watch an artist color outside the lines – and then move the lines to accommodate the artist, you will probably enjoy this play. With two excellent actors keeping the pace sharp – and the occasional one-liner which ignites the intermittent chuckle – HEISENBERG makes for an intriguing evening. This is a subtle character study of two people who are very different, but nevertheless manage to improve their lives and – in the end – get what they want.

Denis Arndt - Photo by Craig Schwartz

Director Mark Brokaw’s direction clearly focuses on “less is more” as he helms this intensely personal production. Mark Wendland’s scenic design is painfully simple. The audience is never allowed to stray from the thoughts and words of these two slyly clever individuals. Other than a small rectangular platform with a few pieces of plain furniture serving as the entire stage, there are no distractions to draw the audience’s attention. Austin R. Smith’s lighting and David Van Tieghem’s sound punctuate each scene and keep the audience focused.

Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker - Photo by Craig Schwartz

HEISENBERG runs through August 6, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. The Mark Taper Forum is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tickets range from $25 to $95. For information and reservations, call 213-628-2772 or go online.  

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