Vol. 12, No. 10 – Feb 13 – Feb 26, 2019 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Uncertainty principle explored at Rubicon

The Rubicon Theatre opened its 21st season labeled “Coming of Age” with a work guaranteed to stretch your thinking and perceptions. While you’re at it, dust off your notes from physics class and review Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle to best get a grasp on the play Heisenberg now on stage in downtown Ventura.

Penned by English playwright Simon Stephens, the two-person staging by director Katharine Farmer certainly lives up to its publicity, as “quirky” and “full of surprises”. It is a romance of sorts with as many comedic moments as dramatic. It is also deeply introspective and emotionally complex, delving into considerations of life’s myriad alternatives and potential consequences.

Alex (Joe Spano) is an older man of measured adherence to the familiar. A butcher by trade, he spends his spare time in a London train station, listening to music. Georgie (Faline England), a perky, unpredictable younger lady, appears one day, spontaneously kisses him on the neck, and quickly becomes an intriguing enigma. Their initial emotional dance where each tries to capture the other’s intents builds into a relationship that surprises both of them.

Alex’s mundane, highly routine existence is challenged by Georgie to live in the moment, be more spontaneous, explore new thoughts. Alex accepts the challenge reluctantly. Ultimately, it is their differences that attract each to the other, while both remain wary and questioning throughout. We are reminded that no matter how much we feel we can predict the behavior of another, it is important to remain cognizant of a person’s right to change their mind, going in a different direction than anticipated. It’s human nature, after all. Humans have foibles. How we handle them is what contributes to our uniqueness.

Both Faline and Spano are superb. They show how intimate an emotional connection can be and how that connection can grow. So much is said with a twitch of an eyebrow, a slight curve of the lips, a pause in dialog and action. Their minimalistic physical movement carries deep meaning, inviting the audience to focus on the actors’ words, inflections and subtle expressions as they work through the complexity of their unexpected rapport.
Alex and Georgie seem complete opposites at first. In time, however, they discover many congruities to bind their friendship.

The 90-minute uninterrupted play actually begins before the play begins, with Spano quietly contemplating his thoughts while the muted ambiance of a busy train station continues in the background. Scenes change as thoughts do, without fanfare, the station behind a constant reminder of where this pairing began.

The play raises many questions such as what risks are involved in stepping outside of your comfort zone to try something new? If the results are potentially equal, why not try? According to Heisenberg, causality shapes events and future behavior. Is the future uncertain? Of course. Are risks involved? Yes. What do we give up if we don’t take the path of risk? The Rubicon’s production choices enable us to take risks, challenges our thinking and satisfies our desire for compelling theater.

Heisenberg plays Wednesdays to Sundays through February 17, 2019 at the Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St. (corner of Main and Laurel Streets) in downtown Ventura. Matinees: 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Evening performances at 8 p.m., except 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, which features a post-show talk back with the cast. Ticket prices vary. The box office is open 7 days a week. There is 24-hour ticketing and seat selection online at www.rubicontheatre.org. (805) 667-2900.

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