Neutrino

Neutrino by England's Unlimited Theatre is a comic meditation on modern life, love, and the nature of coincidence, woven together with wit and science

A wonderful occurrence happened to take place at the Skirball Center, or was it pre-destined? Unlimited Theatre's play, Neutrino, began in Leeds, England, and won the 2001 First Fringe Award for "innovation in theatre and outstanding production" from the esteemed Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  The show takes its name from a sub-atomic particle so small that it is practically undetectable, and the play, which weaves quantum physics with comic scenes about relationships, is part of the Skirball Cultural Center's year-long schedule of programs complementing its Einstein exhibition.

From the opening of the show, which utilizes sound and movement to create a compelling pastiche, you know you're in for something different.  We first meet Stuart (Chris Thorpe), an aspiring stand-up comedian, and Kate (Liz Margree), a manic-depressive librarian as they ride on a train, Stuart is desperately trying to retain his girlfriend's phone number, which Kate helps him with...maybe.  We next meet Jane (Kayla Fell) and Helen (Elizabeth Besbrode), a lesbian couple going home to "meet the parents".  Interwoven throughout the mostly comic, sometimes poignant scenes is a lecture given by Lecturer (Jon Spooner).  The lecture, dealing with aforementioned quantum/particle physics, deals with the nature of coincidence, time and space, and naturally, the music of The Carpenters. 

                                    

As the lecture grows increasingly eccentric, with a hilarious segment on heart and lung transplants for spiders, and climaxing in a delightfully deviant rendition of a Carpenters song, one becomes caught in the web of purple prose and bizarre slides that make up the narration.  A moment when a slide appears of the lecturer as a young boy is oddly touching, and Spooner is a captivating presence.  The scenes on the train unfold their own set of circumstance, and the characters each blossom into their own quirky realities, until you genuinely care about each individual.  The cast is uniformly delightful, from Thorpe's manic, painfully charming comic, to Margree's delicate, subversive Kate, and both Fell and Besbrode are excellent.  It's all about the information you carry and how you use it, and this company (including co-creator Chris Goode) use it very well indeed.

Neutrino plays February 9-11 at the Skirball Cultural Center (866) 468-3399
Info on the Einstein exhibition: (310) 440-4500 or www.skirball.org 

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