In the new play Heisenberg, you can't always trust what you hear. It's not uncommon to be confronted by an untrustworthy character, but this time around it's doubled over by someone whom you're not sure can really help it with the lying. Or is she so in control of everything she does - so calculated, always two steps ahead - that you can't help but admire her incredible foresight?
That's not the question at the heart of the play, but it sure is what drives it. An unlikely duo, played by Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker, meet a train station, setting off a string of scenes over the course of the next few weeks in time that leaves the audience curious and craving for some clarity. At the same time, though, it's that mystery that prompts the characters to join together and to grow to tolerate one another, and there's something sweet about the affection they share, despite their glaring, and sometimes glowing, shortcomings.
Parker's Georgie is a 40-something woman with loads to say, yet little substance. On the other hand is Arndt's Alex, in his 70s, who takes a while to warm up to share much of anything about himself, but as it turns out carries a lot more wisdom and insight and conviction than you might have first believed to be true. When Georgie is mourning her estranged son, Alex is there to console her, without question or fanfare. What could earn him favor in one person's eyes may not leave other audience members all that impressed. It really depends on how you approach the lifelong bachelor who has little more than a butcher shop few people stop into anymore. His loneliness is masked only when he's alone.
Director Mark Brokaw makes the stage feel so much smaller by adding seating to the backside of the stage, forcing these two veteran actors to work with less space than they might be comfortable with. There's also little on the stage, besides for a few chairs and tables that the duo must move around scene to scene to demonstrate how bare their own lives, and souls, truly are. It's perhaps during those brief pauses between scenes that you begin to see the two first working together and in search of the same things -- a place to feel at home in a more orderly setting. The play leaves you wondering whether these two can or will find what they seek, a testament to how so little can reveal a whole lot more is going on beneath the surface.