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COPENHAGEN FOR KZN: (article first published : 2000-07-19)

Voted the Best London Play last year, masterful playwright and novelist Michael Fraynís thought-provoking Copenhagen is a dramatic study of some of the issues that lay behind the discovery of the atomic bomb. His play takes as a reference point a particular historic event that has fascinated historians for a half a century.

In late 1941, German physicist Werner Heisenberg went to Copenhagen to see his Danish counterpart Niels Bohr. Old friends and close colleagues, they had revolutionised atomic physics in the 1920s but were now on opposite sides of a vicious world war. The inexplicable meeting that could have altered the course of history was fraught with danger and embarrassment and ended in disaster. The reasons why Heisenberg deliberately sought out Bohr have challenged historians ever since.

Copenhagen presents hypothetical discussions between Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr and Bohrís wife Margrethe. Both serious and witty, the discussions reveal a dazzling and terrifying international race to harness nuclear power in the service of war, forcing audiences to consider the moral responsibilities of scientists whose intellectual discoveries hold the potential for everlasting harm.

A Durban-based production will appear at the Hilton College Theatre next week before it runs in the Square Space Theatre on the campus of the University of Natal, Durban. Producer and director is Durban-born and Canadian-based Maurice Podbrey who has performed on London's West End and on BBCTV & ITV. He will appear in the role of Werner Heisenberg with Tim Wells as Niels Bohr and Catherine Farren as Margrethe.

This exceptional three-hander which has enjoyed wonderful success internationally makes for a fascinating piece of theatre, it will be of particular interest to senior high school learners with an interest in history and science.

Copenhagen runs at the Hilton College Theatre from July 19 to 21 and in the Square Space Theatre from July 25 to August 19. Booking is through Computicket with block booking discounts for schools and students. Details from Illa on (031) 202-9093 (Durban season) and Doreen on (033) 343-0126 (Hilton season).




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