Until Sun Aug 25 2013
Photograph: Carol Rosegg
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Posted: Mon Aug 12 2013
Einstein: in brief
Physicist, genius and international hair icon Albert Einstein is the subject of Jay Prasad's bioplay, directed by Randolph Curtis Rand for Variations Theatre Group. Richard Kent Green plays the relativity master.
Einstein: theater review by Adam Feldman
The theory of relativity, as we know, holds that time slows down as one either approaches the speed of light or watches bad theater. By traditional measure, Jay Prasad’s biodrama Einstein is two hours and 40 minutes long; but every awful minute is stretched like taffy by amateurish writing, desultory acting and sheer dramatic dead air.
Spanning 50 years in the life of Albert Einstein (an improbable Green), the play shambles forward in various modes. Some of it is hoary. (Defiant young Einstein to his father: “ Yes, Papa… I made up my mind long ago. I’ll work on physics even if it means starvation… [Father sits with bowed head. Mother says ‘Oy!’]”). Some is melodramatic. (Old Einstein, on discovering a flaw in his theory: “I never thought I would make mistakes… I’ve lost my magic touch. [Shouting] Damn that cosmological constant! Damn!! [Lights dim.]”) Some is merely bafflingly banal. (Einstein to a friend: “These are delicious macaroons… Just the right amount of sponginess and sweetness… Want one?”) There are also cameos by a creepy-queer J. Edgar Hoover—fondling the hand of an FBI underling—and an inexplicably twinkly and smiley Adolf Hitler. You can’t make this stuff up, by which I mean you can’t make up to the audience the precious time it wastes.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam
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I kept wondering: Is Green deliberately channeling John Lithgow in "Third Rock from the Sun"?--or are he and the director trying to convince us that Einstein was just a goofball? The piece did indeed play like a high school production: so full of earnestness but so maladroitly handled that it provoked unintended laughter at inappropriate times. Adam, you hit this one on the (frizzy) head.
I saw the play and liked it. It showed so many sides of Einstein and the historical events that he participated it in. that I was willing to forgive the play's many flaws, which can be fixed later. I read Adam Feldman's review and it struck me as not based on facts and very cruel in tone. You don't dismiss a play because of a word here or there or an incident. Maybe Adam Feldman doesn't like macaroons, but I love them and Einstein endeared myself to me by eating them. As a footnote, Mr. Feldman's assertion "time slows down as one either approaches the speed of light" is not correct. Time slows down with motion, to an observer who stands still.
The play is long (2.5 hours) but moves along in a spritly fashion, with many short scenes. The insights into Einsteins personal life are fascinating. The theater is small and all seats have a good view. However, a comment late in the play about Palestinians is an anachronism, or at least very misleading, as the term has meaning today that it did not when Einstein lived. You get much for for your money with this play. Dr. J.