HEISENBERG

Mark Taper Forum
Los Angeles

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Critics LemonMeter

75%

Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train station, Georgie (Parker) spots Alex (Arndt), a much older man, and plants a kiss on his neck. This electric encounter thrusts these two strangers into a fascinating and life-changing game as “Heisenberg” brings to blazing, theatrical life the uncertain and often comical sparring match that is human connection.

When “Heisenberg” received its world premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2015, Ben Brantley of The New York Times called the play “a probing work that considers the multiplicity of alternatives that could shape our lives at every moment.” On returning to see the Broadway run in 2016, Brantley said “Heisenberg” “seems more shimmeringly and satisfyingly elusive each time I see it.” Adding that Parker and Arndt are “the sexiest couple on a New York stage just now.”

Mark Kennedy of Associated Press said playwright Simon Stephens “does nothing less than alchemy here. He captures new love and old love at the same time, hope and fear, the new world and the old. He’s turned the simplest of tales — boy meets girl — into an unexpectedly rich thing with just two chairs, two tables and two actors.” Jesse Green of New York Magazine added, “Under Mark Brokaw’s exquisite direction, the two actors could not be better.” “Heisenberg” was commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club and received its world premiere in the summer of 2015 as part of The Studio at Stage II – Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Series, MTC’s initiative to bring bold new work to audiences. “Heisenberg” was then transferred to the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in 2016.

Manhattan Theatre Club, under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, has become one of the country’s most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over the past four and a half decades, MTC productions have earned numerous awards including six Pulitzer Prizes and 20 Tony Awards. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and two off-Broadway theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street).

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, programming seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

Tickets for “Heisenberg” are available by calling (213) 628-2772, online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org or at the Center Theatre Group Box Office. Tickets range from $25 – $95 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Mark Taper Forum is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

Reviews

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"It turns-out that I am not a fan of Heisenberg, which opened a week ago at the Mark Taper Forum, direct from Broadway, where it earned tons of accolades. So I expected to love it, but there are so many problems with the show, and especially the staging, that I found myself laughing only twice. And even those were far from guffaws. "

"For a play named after a man best known for writing about uncertainty, but there’s nothing at all uncertain about Simon Stephens’ Heisenberg, at least not as regards its power to touch, to compel, and to captivate, all in equal measure."

"Under the pitch-perfect direction of Mark Brokaw, who also guided Parker in her acclaimed turn in How I Learned to Drive, the two performers deliver deeply moving portrayals of these troubled figures, who despite all odds manage to find happiness together. You won't believe a minute of what goes on in Heisenberg, but you'll probably leave the theater with a goofy grin on your face nonetheless. "

"Perhaps it’s because there is so much to love in this play and this production that I could not help but want more. The most jarring choice is the exaggerated and rather baffling accent Parker uses for her character, a lisping, almost drunken-sounding slur that makes Georgie seem, to put it mildly, ditzy."

"Stephens’ script is delightful and wistful by turns, but never sentimental. There are moments of startling, delicious humor, and others of ponderable introspection. But most of all, in the hands of these two extraordinarily skilled actors, there is a particular kind of aching humanity – that delicate need for human connection that a modern social system makes easy to overlook. "

"Stephens places tremendous responsibility on the actors to sell this improbable pairing, but fortunately Parker and Arndt, under the acute direction of Mark Brokaw, are up to the task. "

"Simon Stephens has created a unique play from a predictable situation, delicately peeling away the layers of the 40-something Georgie’s ditsy dysfunctionality and the 75-year-old Alex’ intense emptiness and disappointment with life as their improbable love affair intensifies. Still, a large part of this problem with this production might be the venue itself. The sound at the 739-seat Taper is challenging enough, but when the space is opened to having even more audience on the opposite side while recreating director Mark Brokaw’s original staging from the far more intimate Manhattan Theatre Club, the result is problematic. Regardless, Brokaw’s staging must have been dazzling in better physical conditions and what Stephens’ gives us could easily become a modern classic."

"“Heisenberg” is perhaps most memorable, however, for the way it demonstrates how this dynamic science works on the level of performance. In an equation that operates more like a dance, Parker and Arndt prove that talent is expanded when those slippery variables of time and relativity are factored in. "

"By design, Heisenberg is a talky piece, which makes it all the more important for its characters to be engaging enough to watch and to listen to. Arndt makes the most of what the playwright has given him, and his taciturn Alex deepens and enriches as we get to know him. "

"The play begins amidst the bustle of a crowded London train station when Georgie spots Alex, a much older man, and plants a kiss on his neck. This electric encounter thrusts these two strangers into a fascinating and life-changing game where the truth is often told so believingly yet turns out to be filled with enough falsehoods to jeopardize any chance of a future for these two lonely people to be together. And when the real reason is revealed why Georgie, with all her crazy behavior, flirts and pursues the intrigued Alex, the stage is set for a classic battle of the sexes where you will hope everything works out for the best - however impossible that outcome seems to be."

"...for those who listen hard and become addicted to the unbalanced give-and-take, there’s a certain amount of irresistible charm about the show. "

"Brilliance from playwright, director and actors, it's what great live theatre is all about. Uncertainty from moment to moment is the answer."

"Stephens’ play is frequently funny and occasionally moving, although the characters are clearly comic types and are not remotely realistic. It succeeds as entertainment if you don’t examine it very closely."

"Parker takes on the role with spirit and energy, and Arndt is the perfect foil for her whirling ferocity. Director Mark Brokaw sticks with the crispness of the text, keeping both the set and the tone of the play minimal and tight. "

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