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Copenhagen by Michael Frayn

Copenhagen (1998)

by Michael Frayn

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7541912,315 (4.05)38
  1. 00
    Arcadia by Tom Stoppard (Jannes)
    Jannes: Science, the exploration of the unknown in the universe, explaining life through mathematical concepts, and the uncertainty of the past. These two plays have a lot in common, and are both equally brilliant.
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    Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht (MissBrangwen)
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    Die Physiker by Friedrich Dürrenmatt (MissBrangwen)
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    Tickling the Dragon by Ruth Brandon (KayCliff)

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English (17)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (19)
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This play is a surrealistic exploration of a real event. In 1941 German physicist Werner Heisenberg traveled to Copenhagen to meet with his close friend and colleague, Danish physicist Niels Bohr, even though the war had made them enemies who were both working on an atomic bomb. To this day, no one really knows what they talked about or why Heisenberg went. In the play, Heisenberg, Bohr, and Bohr's wife, Margrethe, meet in the afterlife and try to remember what happened that night and why. Like the subatomic particles that they studied, their lives moved too fast for them to be able to pinpoint exactly what happened.

This was a reread for me. I'm not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but I loved this play because of the way Frayn meshed scientific theory with human behavior. I really liked how Frayn compared Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle with the uncertainty of war and human memory. And even though I didn't understand all of the scientific details, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the play. I also appreciate the unanswered questions about the morality of scientists creating a weapon that could kill that many people at once. I think this is one play that is better read than seen because you can take you time with the dialogue and go back and reread lines if you want to. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
  kutheatre | Jun 4, 2015 |
Mesmerizing. ( )
  Noa.Tamir | Dec 28, 2014 |
Mesmerizing. ( )
  Noa.Tamir | Dec 28, 2014 |
מחזה מעניין מאוד על דילמה היסטורית פיזיקלי​ ( )
  amoskovacs | Jul 19, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385720793, Paperback)

For most people, the principles of nuclear physics are not only incomprehensible but inhuman. The popular image of the men who made the bomb is of dispassionate intellects who number-crunched their way towards a weapon whose devastating power they could not even imagine. But in his Tony Award-winning play Copenhagen, Michael Frayn shows us that these men were passionate, philosophical, and all too human, even though one of the three historical figures in his drama, Werner Heisenberg, was the head of the Nazis' effort to develop a nuclear weapon. The play's other two characters, the Danish physicist Niels Bohr and his wife, Margrethe, are involved with Heisenberg in an after-death analysis of an actual meeting that has long puzzled historians. In 1941, the German scientist visited Bohr, his old mentor and long-time friend, in Copenhagen. After a brief discussion in the Bohrs' home, the two men went for a short walk. What they discussed on that walk, and its implications for both scientists, have long been a mystery, even though both scientists gave (conflicting) accounts in later years.

Frayn's cunning conceit is to use the scientific underpinnings of atomic physics, from Schrödinger's famous cat to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, to explore how an individual's point of view renders attempts to discover the ultimate truth of any human interaction fundamentally impossible. To Margrethe, Heisenberg was always an untrustworthy student, eager to steal from her husband's knowledge. To Bohr, Heisenberg was a brilliant if irresponsible foster son, whose lack of moral compass was part of his genius. As for Heisenberg, the man who could have built the bomb but somehow failed to, his dilemma is at the heart of the play's conflict. Frayn's clever dramatic structure, which returns repeatedly to particular scenes from different points of view, allows several possible theories as to what his motives could have been. This isn't the first play to successfully merge the worlds of science and theater (one is inevitably reminded of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and Hapgood), but it's certainly one of the most dramatically successful. --John Longenbaugh

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:56 -0400)

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The Student Edition of Frayn's multi-award winning play includes a full commentary and notes.

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