Directed by Adam Neill
Masque Theatre until Saturday November 12
Bookings: 021 788 1898 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Review: Michelle Saffer
How many actors can say they have been in a play whose opening lines are, “Ah, the universe!” David Muller can, and he wrote the play himself, a work of creation that Albert Einstein would probably have approved of.
Einstein was also a creator, but a scientific one. Einstein, as portrayed by David Muller, was an artist, an artist of science, an artist of thought. He blissfully would sit and think, doing what he called “thinking experiments”.
David wrote and first performed the play in 2005, conceptualised by Mike Bruton of the MTN ScienCentre, to celebrate the centenary of the publication of the Einstein’s theories, including the formula that almost everyone knows but very few understand: E=mc2.
David immersed himself in piles of information, biographical, scientific and anecdotal, and came up with a warm evocation of Einstein, someone you would happily invite to your home for a bit of apfelstrudel. He might have a bit of a roving eye but, ah, what a “mensch”, a nice man, always ready to answer questions from curious children.
The play traces his life from early childhood, amazed and curious, to school, unhappy to be learning by rote, to his adulthood: his early years in the patent office, his marriages, his increasing scientific recognition, and the effect of the two World Wars on this pacifist whose work was the catalyst for the atomic bomb.
It is a wonderfully theatrical experience and David holds the audience’s attention throughout. He is always at ease in interacting with the audience, so much so that you almost believe you are a visitor in his study. A visitor to whom he will explain some science.
“If a theory does not make sense to a child, do not waste any more energy with it,” David quotes Einstein as saying. And so David, who confesses his background is completely unscientific, has grappled with the step by step logic of Einstein’s science until it makes sense to him, and passes on his understanding to us.
I am proud to say that not only do I understand the words behind the concept that the speed of light is constant, but I actually saw that the speed was constant, thanks to David’s demonstration. And this from a work of entertainment.
Certainly worth going to see, especially since David is a local lad, living in Muizenberg, and now at your local community theatre.