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404 Strand, London, WC2R 0NH
Ended 23 May 2015 after 57 days
A dazzling spectacle, ambitious and triumphant, a sure-fire hit
It seems quite fitting with today's bleak political climate that Tom Morton-Smith's new offering with the Royal Shakespeare Company is set within the fraught heart of the Manhattan Project. This new play, directed by Angus Jackson, explores the tension between the scientific advances that shaped man's understanding of the universe against the justification of using nuclear weapons in wartime - together these reveal the personal cost of making history, for better or for worse.
The year is 1939 and fascism is on the march across Europe; meanwhile, General Franco is advancing on Barcelona, and in Germany, two chemists have just discovered how to create atomic fission. On the other side of the world in Berkeley, California, a harried group theoretical physicists realise the full horror of what this means. If the Germans are successful in weaponising nuclear energy, such a weapon that draws its power from the very building blocks of the universe has the potential to destroy America. Cue the the ambitious and charismatic J. Robert Oppenheimer, who quickly finds himself in charge of spearheading the largest scientific undertaking in all of human history; to create the first nuclear weapon before the Germans do.
A troubled man who often neglected his health when engaged in deep thought, he faces subtle anti-Semitism at work, is constantly having affairs with other women outside his marriage, and is involved in Communist activity; as a result, he struggles to cast off his radical past and once in a position power and authority, he heads the race to win the 'battle of the laboratories' and create the weapon to end not just the Second World War, but all wars thereafter. Later after its successful deployment, he and his fellow scientists must reconcile themselves with the cost that the atomic bomb has presented in their quest to make America invincible.
Previews from: 27 March 2015
Opening night: 31 March 2015
Closing night: 23 May 2015
Suitable for ages 12+
Recommended for students and fans of Second World War History!
Two hours and 40 minutes, with one interval
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