Theater

“Heisenberg” a remarkable accomplishment for all involved

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“Heisenberg” a remarkable accomplishment for all involved

The most memorable characters are often the lost ones, the ones just struggling to get by – and that’s because they’re so relatable, really. We’re all, in a way, lost, just doing our best to make it through the world in one piece. Heisenberg brings together an unlikely couple, both lost and alone in their own way, who fit together even though they shouldn’t, and the end result is a sheer delight.

75-year-old Alex Priest (Malcolm Ingram) is sitting at a train station listening to music when Georgie Burns (Tamara Hickey) bursts into his life. She proceeds to hold a spirited conversation with him, continuing even when he shows signs of wanting to be alone. The next day she shows up at his butcher shop and says she’d very much like to go out on a date with him. Despite their age difference (she’s in her early 40s) they hit it off and a romance begins, until she reveals something she’s been hiding from him that may spell the end of their time together.

This is a perfect production: delightful and heartbreaking, fun and thought-provoking, intelligent and beautiful to watch. Juliana von Haubrich has designed a set that’s very stark – there are screens upstage with lights behind them and sometimes various shapes projected on them, and there are park benches as well as set pieces that move to become a counter, a bed, a riverbank. It works very well – this is just a peek into Alex and Georgie’s lives, almost a sketch of how they came to be, and the set pieces add to that feeling.

When you see “directed by Tina Packer” you know you’re in for a treat, of course, and this is no exception. These characters are absolutely alive in every way and the work Packer has done on this piece is gorgeous. Georgie is almost spastic in her movements, but in such a way you can tell it’s planned; Alex is so controlled in motion, word, and deed. These are people I want to know. The play itself, written by Simon Stephens, who wrote the award-winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (based on the book by Mark Haddon), is just wonderful – I hope to see more of his work.

Hickey, with shades of both Kristen Wiig and a young Rosanna Arquette, is hyper, over-the-top, bouncy and delightful as Georgie. She never crosses the line into a caricature or a Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope – she’s very human, very flawed, and so utterly watchable. As her story comes out in bits and pieces, you begin to put her together like a puzzle and your heart aches for her – what a well-written character. Ingram is just as joyful to watch – set in his ways, a creature of habit, until Georgie comes in and disrupts what he’s built. Watching her slowly work on him (and vice-versa) is a wonder.

Upon leaving this show, these characters will enter your heart and take up residence there. What a marvelous accomplishment for everyone involved.

“Heisenberg”; Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox, MA; through September 2; $75-$20; Run time: 95 minutes; (413) 637-3353;  http://www.shakespeare.org/

 

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