Simon Stephens’s play Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle is set up as a classic story of culture clash: a quirky, talkative woman from New Jersey strikes up a conversation with a reserved Londoner in a train station, ignoring all social cues that he’d rather be left alone. But when she arrives at his butcher shop a few days later, frankly admitting that she googled him, the two begin an unconventional friendship that reveals how much they have in common. Although they are more than 30 years apart, both are deeply lonely, living without partners or family, and nursing old wounds of abandonment.
Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle
Through 3/26: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, 773-338-2177, griffintheatre.com, $40 (students, active military, and veterans $15)
Under the direction of Nate Cohen, Scott Anderson and Laura Coover star in Griffin Theatre’s Chicago premiere of this quietly profound two-hander. Coover carries the bulk of the dialogue in the earlier scenes with a winning portrayal of the chatty American, Georgie. Her apparent openness and good humor make it all the more shocking when a major secret is later revealed. Anderson gives a nuanced, slowly unfolding performance as Alex, who delivers some of the play’s most beautiful lines in the final scene, ruminating on his own mortality and the simple, yet unexpected pleasures he hopes to enjoy in his remaining years.
Stephens’s play takes its title from a principle of quantum mechanics developed by German physicist Werner Heisenberg. In Georgie’s colloquial explanation, it means that the closer you look at an object, the less you can observe its speed or the direction it’s traveling. As Georgie and Alex grow closer to one another, they initially know little about each other’s motives and aims. It’s only when the truth comes out and they come to understand each other’s faults and traumas that they can decide whether their paths will continue in the same direction.