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In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer by…

In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1964)

by Heinar Kipphardt

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This play takes the transcript from the hearings on Oppenheimer's security clearance and creates a stage presence. As such, it has a lot of drama, but lacks a lot of what standard playgoers expect. The subjects dealt with are complex and timely even today, investigating the intersection of science and politics, and which would win in the battle over how science is to be used (I won't give away the ending; most of us know who won that battle, anyway). This case, at least according to the characters, will decide whether science will become a tool of government, business, and military interests, or whether it would remain independent. It is a play written during the period of time that the nuclear question was truly on everyone's mind, and not in the abstract fear of today, but the very visceral fear that led to duck-and-cover drills in grade schools. The author does a good job with the material, and one real strength is that he doesn't answer the questions he asks; he leaves them dangling in the air for the audience to chew over when they leave the theatre. That is the surest guarantee of writing a play that everyone will remember. ( )
1 vote Devil_llama | Jun 16, 2013 |
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