by Lydia Baxter and Becca Jennings
Most human beings don’t like ambiguity or not knowing what the future holds. We are drawn to a sense of comfort and security that comes with what’s familiar. But playwright Simon Stephens believes there is emotionally-charged hope and excitement to be found in life’s inevitable uncertainty. For Stephens, chance experiences and encounters encapsulate what it means to be alive.
This sentiment comes to life in Heisenberg, which kicks off with an arresting jolt when Georgie Burns, a spitfire of a woman, plants a kiss on the neck of a total stranger in the traditionally unromantic setting of a London train station. That unexpecting neck belongs to the solemn and straight-laced Alex Priest, a bookish butcher, who would much prefer his quiet walks through downtown London to be undisturbed, thank you very much. Despite their differences, over the next six weeks, these two lonely Londoners forge a connection that will change the course of their lives. Though Georgie and Alex are seemingly opposite in every conceivable way, the two characters learn from and inspire one another, giving each other a new outlook on life.
Inspired by German physicist Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Stephens wrote the namesake play as a way to celebrate how wonderfully uncertain people–and the world–can be. “If it’s possible to really understand where somebody is, to really know them…then it’s much more likely that they’ll do something that will completely astonish you,” said Stephens in a recent interview. Stephens continued, “I think Heisenberg is infused with the possibility of optimism, and I think that is important.”
Simon Stephens is best known for his award-winning play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which during its premiere run tied the then record for winning the most Olivier Awards (seven), including Best New Play.
Heisenberg premiered at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2015 and transferred to Broadway the next year with an award-winning cast of characters who defied audience expectations. This upcoming season, Heisenberg is being produced by several theatre companies across the country and in London.
Here at Florida Studio Theatre, playing the mercurial Georgie Burns is Rachel Moulton, who is returning to FST for her sixth production. Moulton was last seen this past spring in the Stage III production of Grounded, a play about an unexpected pregnancy that ends an ace fighter pilot’s career in the sky. Her raw energy and organic emotion makes her a perfect fit for the outspoken role of Georgie. Alex Priest will be portrayed by George Crowley, who is returning to FST for his seventh production. Crowley is best known by FST audiences for his role as Sigmund Freud in Freud’s Last Session, an imagined depiction of a meeting between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis, set on the very day that England entered the Second World War.