Clever Dick

I’m not really one to write in the traditional blog manner, revealing to the world the tedium of my everyday life — what TV I watched, what I had for dinner, what I think about the war in Iraq and all that stuff. Today’s blog entry is a bit of an exception then, as I’m going to talk about a play I saw on Friday.

I’m a huge fan of Richard Feynman; he was an inspirational figure for me. When leafing through last week’s New Scientist and seeing a play involving the great man, it ws too much to resist. The play, Clever Dick, is on at the Hampstead Theatre which is only a stone’s throw from PKR where I’m currently working, so it was easy to get to too.

The play is a comedy and is fictional, only Feynman’s character and the setting in the days of the Manhatten Project are real. The rest is completely made up and, without giving too much away, is very much a ‘what if’ kind of play. A single change from the what actually happened (a left turn instead of a right) and what might have happened as a result.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been to the theatre, and I was not disappointed one bit. The Hampstead Theatre is a fantastic venue, a modern, intimate-feeling theatre right next to Swiss Cottage tube station. As for the play — it was absolutely fantastic. The essential character of Feynman was captured fantastically both in Crispin Whittell’s writing and Adrian Rawlins’s on-stage portrayal — the genius, ever-explaining, scientist-to-the-core straight-talking New Yorker. It was bewitching to behold a full theatre being explaned the concepts of nuclear fission and fusion, absolute zero and the importance of the scientific method.

The play was funny in all the right places and extremely touching; dealing with all the nastiness of death and the personal tragedies of both the scientists working on the nuclear bomb and those tragedies personal to Feynman.

I can wholeheartedly recommend it, not just to Feynman buffs but to anyone with an interest in science — Ness enjoyed it very much too.

(Links: Guardian review)

Filed under: Blog
Posted at 21:04:14 BST on 29th May 2006.

About Matt Godbolt

Matt Godbolt is a C++ developer working in Chicago in the finance industry.