In the age of Internet dating sites, Manhattan Theater Club's staging of Simon Stephens' play Heisenberg, newly arrived to the Samuel J. Friedman Theater on Broadway after a successful off Broadway run, offers a unique point of engagement. Georgie (Mary-Louise Parker), a wacky, damaged young woman impulsively kisses a man on the neck on a London subway station. The man, named Alex (Denis Arndt), older (75!), a butcher by trade, and not a likely match for her at 42, becomes a verbal sparring partner, and bedmate. The title suggests science, a specific and famous theory related to uncertainty, but the real science here is chemistry. As odd as they seem together as a couple, a perfection develops, a negotiation of possibilities that may become a blueprint for alternatives to traditional girl meets boy, well suited to our times.
The stage is bare, narrowed by stadium seats for an extended audience. The actors work in the middle with simple chairs and tables. Locations emerge from Mark Wendland's scenic design, Austin R. Smith's expert lighting, and our willingness to believe. You see Alex and Georgie in bed, really atop a hard table they've just been sitting at, and you know they've had the best sex ever.
Under Mark Brokaw's fine direction, Georgie assuages Alex's loneliness, and Alex grounds her. The science may be theoretical, but applied to theater, Heisenberg is a comic take on the human capacity to connect, and deeply satisfying.
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