Charles Essex reviews The Physicists at the Loft Theatre, Leamington
Knowledge is power. Who controls knowledge? Once the genie is out of the bottle it cannot be put back in. Three physicists are held in a sanatorium run by a psychiatrist who seems as mad as the inmates. Each physicist had a nurse who doted on them but the nurses were murdered by their respective patients. The exasperated detective sent to investigate finally gratefully gives up as he accepts the inmates cannot be held responsible or brought to trial.
But is it so simple?
Set at the height of the Cold War as super powers vie for supremacy in the arms race, the stark clinical setting focuses our attention on the dialogue between the trio. Two of the three scientists pretend to be mad to get access to the third, Möbius, a brilliant scientist, to try to persuade him to side with the super power they each represent. The nurses suspected Einstein (Jeremy Haynes) and Newton (John Fenner) were not mad and were murdered to stop them exposing the deception.
Yet, Möbius, brilliantly portrayed by Tim Willis, was not mad either and had taken refuge in the asylum to make sure the seminal physics theories he resolved did not fall into the wrong hands. The dialogue between the three bristles with ethical challenges.
Ironically they are caught out by their hubris.
The seriousness of the issues was tackled with wry humour and the cast were faultless. Again, The Loft has not been afraid to stage a play addressing challenging moral issues.
* The Physicists runs until Saturday July 22. Visit loft-theatre.co.uk to book.