By Sandi Durell
I do believe that playwright Simon Stephens (recently of the Tony winning Curious Incident of the Dog…) was cleverly setting up his audiences with the title of this talkie 80 minute two-hander. I even quickly brushed up on my scientific reading about Werner Heisenberg, the famous German theoretical scientist who founded the uncertainty principle, which may or may not have something to do with the explosions that persist between Mary-Louise Parker and Denis Arndt at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
The stage at Manhattan Theatre Club is ablaze with the on-going, unstoppable babble that erupts from the lonely, tortured soul of Mary-Louise Parker (Georgie Burns) living in a London suburb as she meets and claws her way into the heart of Denis Arndt (Alex Priest) at a London railway station. Deftly directed by Mark Brokaw, this 40-something damaged flake of a woman, a teacher, spews lies and is the perfect example of someone who has forgotten to take her meds for years! Whatever is on her mind (which is quite a tangled mess of insecurities) is on her tongue with no filters. So when she lands on the 75 year old quiet and restrained Alex, a butcher who lives quietly and likes to listen to CD music of all genres, the initial impact is far from a likely duo who might come together for what eventually results in a kind of love, sex and fulfillment for two lost souls.
She must eventually admit that she stalked him with the idea of somehow getting 15,000 pounds out of him to return to New Jersey to find her lost 19 year old wayward son, where he joins her on her search that leads to nowhere but a solidification of an on-going relationship between this May-December unlikely coupling.
Georgie is relentless in her venom-like attacks about Alex’s age and character, coiling and recoiling, showing off Parker’s remarkable acting skills (probably a Tony nom here) albeit in a most annoying persistent way and occasionally in what might even be called charismatic. She’s as unpredictable a human being romancing Alex, who is reserved, kind of dull and lonely, realizing this young woman might be just the right distraction. After all, he hasn’t had sex in a looooong time making room for the humor that flows from both giving the occasional chuckle.
With stadium seating on stage, and Mark Wendland’s minimalist set of two tables and two chairs making for a very small performance space, the scenes pop in and out quickly. However, is this awkward pairing really believable?
Heisenberg – Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47 St., thru Dec. 4.
www.manhattantheatreclub.com Photo: Joan Marcus