Copenhagen (2003)

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by Michael Frayn

Directed by Anton Krause

Performances: Wed 12th – Sat 15th February 2003, Prompt Corner


"Michael Frayn's tremendous new play is a piece of history, an intellectual thriller, a psychological investigation and a moral tribunal in full session", wrote John Peter in the Sunday Times when this play premiered at the Royal National Theatre in 1998.

The story centres around real-life people and real-life events and attempts to find sense in a meeting which has puzzled historians for over sixty years. Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg revolutionised atomic physics in the 1920s with their work together on quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. Bohr the elder statesman, the father of modern atomic physics and Heisenberg the young, fiercely intelligent protégé, not afraid at the age of twenty, on his first meeting with Bohr to announce to a packed conference hall that the great man had made a mistake in his mathematics.

For years they worked together like father and son, until the Nazis came along and the patriotic German, Heisenberg and the half-Jewish Dane, Bohr found themselves on opposite sides in a World War. In the midst of this conflict in 1941 Heisenberg made a perilous trip to Copenhagen to visit his old friend and colleague. The meeting was brief, fraught with danger and embarrassment and ended in disaster. Why did Heisenberg make the visit? Was he seeking advice which could aid the German bomb project? Or was he giving intelligence which could be of use to the Allies?

In this fascinating piece of theatre we get the chance to hear our protagonists debate these very issues in a fictitious meeting years after their deaths. Joined by Margrethe, Bohr's wife, they play out all of the possibilities and try to work out, just as they worked out the internal functioning of the atom, how we can ever know why we do what we do.

This promises to be a challenging and demanding piece of theatre for cast and audience alike. All three characters are on stage all of the time debating complex moral, philosophical and scientific issues. There is a fair amount of physics in the play but like all great drama this is about human relationships. Science is just the backdrop for it. So do not be put off if you hoped you had left all thoughts of science behind you at school.

Anton Krause<ref>Directors Notes - SLT Website</ref>




Some review quotes go here


Photo thumbnails go here with links to larger images.

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