Monday, December 21, 2009

Palm Beach DramaWorks: Copenhagen (2 Reviews)

Palm Beach DramaWorks opened its production of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen on December 18, 2009.
In 1941 physicist Werner Heisenberg went to Copenhagen to see his counterpart, Niels Bohr. This drama questions how one can stay true to science, family and friends, one's country and one's God when at the forefront of discovery.
J. Barry Lewis directed a cast that included Elizabeth Dimon, Colin McPhillamy, and Chris Oden.

The Miami Herald has declined to review this production.*

Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
...the kind of theatrical challenge that only Palm Beach Dramaworks would take on, rewarding audiences willing to lean in and listen hard.
What makes the experience compelling are the three verbally adept performers. Colin McPhillamy (Bohr), a dead ringer for Tom Wilkinson, is understated and parental compared with excitable, impassioned Heisenberg, played by Christopher Oden. Challenging them to clarify their thinking is the wily Elizabeth Dimon as Margrethe, a skeptical inquisitor.

Remarkably, director J. Barry Lewis manages to keep this talkathon from being static, moving his cast like chess pieces about the stage with an unforced hand. And if you look for it, their movements resemble the charged particles of an atom.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for the Sun-Sentinel:
J. Barry Lewis' direction is breath-taking in its painstaking detail. Never self-conscious, Lewis' work is phenomenal in his pacing, his movement of the actors, and above all, his leadership in mining and illustrating the meaning of each moment in the script.

The acting, too, is full-bodied and compelling as crystalline minds capable of divining the secrets of the atom cannot discern the secrets of their own motivations. While the audience may frequently be left in the dust by Frayn's profligate verbiage, you never doubt that the actors know precisely what they are saying or why. No ballet corps executes dizzying pirouettes as elegantly or intricate footwork as skillfully as this trio.

The design team's work is first-rate, but Todd Wren's ever-shifting lighting not only sets the mood, but subtly focuses your attention — plus delivers a stunning surprise in the second act that he and Lewis insert in a script that is solely dialogue.
Copenhagen plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through January 31, 2010.

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