Saturday, November 26, 2016

Heisenberg - The Height of Life's Uncertainties

In life, as in most of our investigations [and most certainly in national elections] there exists a formidable amount of relative and directional uncertainty - we all must continuously yet certainly manage the assimilation of all incoming data, parse and decipher errant clues and instructions, then winnow thru physical as well as ethereal evidence - carefully separating what constitutes 'smoke and noise' from hard fact. 

Additionally, the scientific study of our physical world further postulates that there is a fundamental limit to the precision in which certain pairs of physical properties can be known, believing for example that if you (perhaps) measure the mass of an object in motion you thereby lessen your ability to quantify accurately that objects precise velocity. It is thus expounded - the more you know about one the less you will know about the other.

This may appear to be pure folly when operating in known entities in the physical realm (handsome coaches traveling on a straight line for example) but which is duly evidenced and amplified when working in the subatomic fields of quantum mechanics (and most certainly in the dangerous arena of a woman's emotions!)

This scientific postulate is known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and its effects waft like lingering vapors throughout this latest production by the Manhattan Theater Club

'Heisenberg' is exquisitely written by Mr. Simon Stephens, most recently of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' -  the irony of which is most assuredly NOT lost upon this investigator. From the original book by Mark Haddon it is a masterpiece of subtlety and emotional inference, with writing that works like a spider whose web ensnares its victim almost imperceptibly until it is much too late.

'Heisenberg' is the story of a young woman (Georgie Burns/Mary Louise Parker) and a much older man (Alex Priest/Denis Arndt) who 'appear' to serendipitously meet in a London train station and thereby develop a spontaneous relationship (or as spontaneous as one might expect once Georgie plants an uninvited kiss on the neck of the unsuspecting Alex).

Yet, as Sir John Gielgud eruditely once opined, "I am all in favor of spontaneity, as long as it is carefully planned and ruthlessly controlled"; and such a course is no less so evident in this performance.

In the hands of lesser professionals this story would lose its way fairly quickly but here these two actors thoroughly maintain a growing centripetal presence on a quiet set unoccupied by anyone or anything more than two tables and two chairs. Their magnetic attraction is exhibited slowly but certainly and draws in both the audience to the actors and the actors to each other like celestial bodies circling a black hole throughout their time together.  

Told in one long Act without intermission (do not dare be late to the start of this performance), Denis Arndt (Boston Legal, 24,
Oregon Shakespeare Festival to name but a few) is instantly recognizable yet a relative unknown with any specificity. He has a quietly commanding presence with clear speech and unwavering perception without the crutch of ubiquitous volume or needless histrionics.
Ms. Parker, ('Weeds', 'Proof', 'Angels in America'), has such an understated manner in which she handles her role that it is almost as if she's mentally knitting loop after small loop throughout the production and in such a way that you barely recognize her nuanced additions, only to witness the full spread at the end - leaving you in full awe at the resulting beautiful and emotional tapestry.

This is a limited performance and should be attended for its simple and emotional beauty, Ms. Parker seemingly overcome at the finale by the sheer fervor of it all on a recent Thursday evening.

As an aside, I must say that Watson and I have been fortunate enough to witness some of the finest performances to ever grace the stage and the productions at the renovated Samuel J. Friedman Theater on W. 47th St. by The Manhattan Theater Club, whose mission is "to produce innovative work with a series of
productions as broad and as diverse as New York itself", has been producing some of the most compelling works anywhere, including the recently acclaimed 'Venus in Fur','Fool in Love','Heisenberg', as well as the upcoming 'Wit', with actors Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney alternating roles in this two person drama on successive evenings.

With only 622 seats it cannot help being a thoroughly intimate experience from anywhere inside the theater and one would be well served to ensure their attendance before this run certainly (and regrettably) concludes.

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