God and Stephen Hawking
God and Stephen Hawking
Written by Robin Hawdon
The Science Play Festival 2015
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL</strong>
Theatre critic protip: NEVER type “Who wrote ‘God vs Stephen Hawking’” into Google, It will NOT help you figure out the title here is “God AND…” Hawking can be a VERY touchy subject. Tonight’s reading takes us though the body of this Robin Hawdon play and the story line is quite similar to the recent film “The Theory of Everything”. The big difference is the addition of Phillip Nolan as God (The Almighty) as a commentator; He is unable to communicate with Hawking (Cameron Frances) since Hawing is an unbeliever. The true believer here is Hawking’s first wife Jane (Kelly Morris Rowan), they chat quite amiably and commiserate over Stephen’s atheism and ALS and his single minded drive to understand the universe. While Nolan is full of precise timing and the comic sense to make this story work, God seem more like a mischievous spirit bent on torturing Hawking by adding more and more layers to the universe Hawking struggles with. Curiously, He never seems threatened by the search, nor does He indicate if Hawking and the modern physics guys are getting closer to a final solution, or if in he end it’s “nothing but turtles, all the way down.”
Technical topics are notoriously hard to put on stage, plays like “Proof” or “Copenhagen” derive their popularly from human interaction rather than any general audience interest in science or number theory. That’s true tonight as well; Nolan’s energy and frenetic pace plows through a rather scatter shot briefing on relativity. It entertains but if you’ve ever wondered about time dilation past the Star Trek level you’ll be lost. Mr. Frances made some excellent acting choices in portraying Hawking’s physical decline, sometimes he mimics the famous Speak and Spell voice, other times he sounds like a normal college lecturer albeit with a distinctly American accent. Ms. Frances was striking and I noticed her amazingly fluid hand motions when she’s excited. Janine Papin read stage direction and some minor roles; if staged this would be a real challenge with multiple locations and quick scene changes. But I like it that Mad Cow is taking up this challenging facet of drama; today we face a clash between expanding and ever more obscure physics breakthroughs on one hand and a willful intolerance of verifiable, reproducible facts about the universe on the other.
For more information on Mad Cow and The Science Play Festival, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com </em>