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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review

You are actually more boring than you seem in real life.— Georgie
Tamara Hickey and Malcolm Ingram
The beguiling Heisenberg at Shakespeare and Company's offering at the Bernstein Theatre, is less about scientific theory and more about relationship entanglements; both are equally difficult to understand though quantum physics may actually be by comparison much easier. Two lonely people, like stray atoms, collide and out of the meeting create a totally new trajectory that veers radically from what their proscribed lives had ordained.

Alex Priest (Malcolm Ingram), sitting alone in a train station, a staid seventy-five year-old butcher is kissed on the back of his neck by wildly unpredictable American Georgie (Tamara Hickey), and a sweetly bizarre love story ensues.

Based on a story British author, Simon Stephens, who's best known for the Olivier and Tony Award winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, heard in his hometown. He says "I wanted to write characters that had the capacity to take themselves and each other by surprise."

Tamara Hickey's Georgie commands the stage and Priest with her manic self-revelations and potty mouth. A chameleon, she, Priest and the audience are never quite sure that her stories are true or without ulterior motives. Quirky and likable, in spite of her rapid fire verbal acrobatics, her full-frontal attack on Priest's emotional walls is immediately engaging. However, some of her New Jersey accent could be lost so as not to distract from her antics.

Priest puts up one hell of a fight to protect himself from the powerhouse intrusion into his conservative life. As his defenses are breached it is obvious that his well-ordered quotidian repetition is threatened; Alex's daily walks to and from work and nightly writing exactly 50 words to mark each day in his diary are a counterpoint to Georgie's bizarre unpredictability. "You're not so much creature of routine as a psychopathic raging monster of it. And then I came along."

Ingram delivera lines such as "I like animals, they have seams" with a guilelessnessthat belies sarcasm. His logical stoicism has allowed him to survive great loss; his resultant isolation is gradually bared through the evening's dialogue.

Tina Packer has directed her fine actors with a tender eye. The fragility of the play's undercurrents demand nuanced energy as the couple acts and then reacts to each other's disclosures and silences.

How each character overcomes distinctive behavioral patterns to attract, confuse and astonish is what makes this soulful story so satisfying. But Heisenberg requires sympathetic attention just as does a Beethoven sonata which, as Alex puts it," doesn't exist in the notes but in the spaces between the notes."

The scene and costume changes, as per script directions, are performed in full view of the audience. Set designer Julianne von Haubrich's set pieces and screens move fluidly along with the action. The costumes by Charlotte Palmer Lane are appealingly accurate for each character's persona and most importantly, easy for quick change.

Whether objects either particle or wave according to Heisenberg's uncertainty theory seems irrelevant in the face of the larger question: Do they Tango? The chemistry between Ingram's Alex and Hickey's Georgie hints at an unpredictable path to love. Welcome to chaos theory.

Editor's Note: Curtainup's review of the play on Broadway

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Heisenberg by Simon Stephens
Directed by Tina Packer
Cast: Cast: Tamara Hickey (Georgie) Malcolm Ingram (Alex)
Scenic Design: Juliana von Haubrich
Costume Design: Charlotte Palmer-Lane
Lighting Design: Daniel Kotlowitz
Sound Design: Amy Altadonna
Choreographer: Susan Dibble
Stage Manager: Hope Rose Kelly
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Shakespeare and Company, Tina Packer Playhouse, Lenox, MA
Opening: 8/11/2018; Closing: 9/2/2018
Reviewed by Gloria Miller at August 18, 2018 performance

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