Monday, 16 October 2017
Theatre review: Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle
Naturally opening with a series of lies means it's hard to trust anything Georgie tells us about herself later, leaving us with some of the element of uncertainty from the title; as the two build an unlikely romance, Stephens wrong-foots the audience on some of the twists we might expect from the story.
There are a couple of elements to Heisenberg that I found were obstacles to settling into it - not least of all the fact that the generation-gap relationship featuring a much older man and younger woman is such a common, widely and rightly derided Hollywood staple, and I'm not convinced Stephens is giving us that new a twist on it here. There's also the suggestion of weaving scientific theory into an everyday story that's very Nick Payne, and the hope that this might be another Constellations is a hard one to live up to.
But given that I never really got over these obstacles the play has a lot to offer; even if the age gap is hard to swallow, Duff and Cranham are good enough that they sell it on chemistry alone, and the character of Georgie is intriguing - what happens when the Manic Pixie Dream Girl grows up? Andy compared it to the sort of low-key play you might see on the fringe and be pleasantly surprised by. And it would fit in very well there, but Elliott's production does take advantage of its profile and West End budget to add a bit of atmosphere and mystery to it. Bunny Christie's white box set has moving walls that leave the action feeling in flux, and Paule Constable's lighting helps create strong visuals and an ever-changing colour palate.
Between the scenes the two actors have understated moments of almost dance-like movement - I wasn't surprised to see Steven Hoggett's name among the creatives. All in all this is curiously understated for a West End show and not entirely satisfying on its own terms, but an interesting way for Elliott to start a new venture, and certainly a great display from the two actors.
Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle by Simon Stephens is booking until the 6th of January at Wyndham's Theatre.
Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes straight through.
Photo credit: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg.