Berlin, history, Life in Berlin, science, theatre, Uncategorized

Transcendence at the English Theatre Berlin

A hundred years ago, on 25th November 1915, Einstein proved his general theory of relativity, transforming our understanding of physical reality. Apt timing then, for Robert Marc Friedman’s Transcendence, a play about Einstein, at the English Theatre Berlin.

Transcendence, English Theatre Berlin
Photo by Gerald Wesolowski, courtesy of the English Theatre Berlin

The play transcends the barriers of space and time – running from 1911 to the second world war, spanning from Berlin, Prague, Zurich and Sweden to the USA – as it spins together three story strands.

One strand is the relationship between Albert Einstein and his fellow physicist Max Planck. Einstein and Planck came from vastly different backgrounds, with little in common but physics and music. Although their friendship builds despite their differences, it ultimately – in the face of a volatile political landscape (including the first and second world wars) – fails.

Another focus is the relationship between Einstein and Kafka, who almost certainly met, although no record exists of their encounters. This narrative highlights the similarities between science and art – both men use creativity and imagination in their work to search for underlying realities. Is there, they ponder, a moral equivalent to general relativity?

And finally, there are the maneuverings in Sweden concerning the Nobel Prize in Physics, influenced by politics and people who were reluctant to acknowledge Einstein and his theory (they eventually awarded him the prize for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, not for relativity = fail).

The actors (Ben Maddox, Logan Verdoorn and Max Wilkinson) approach these iconic characters in a realistic way, even lending them a comic aspect. Despite this, the play gets bogged down by its weighty subject matter. It presents too much information over too broad a scope; although each story-line is fascinating, each could have been a full-length play in itself.

Overall, it manages to string together an illuminating picture of how some of Europe’s most fascinating figures struggled to transcend harsh realities during the most volatile period of the continent’s history.

Transcendence is on at the English Theatre Berlin (Fidicinstr. 40, 10965 Berlin) until 30th November 2015.

Literature, Uncategorized

Versatile Blogger Award

So Will McNeice over at Bohemian Breakdancer has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Hooray!

The requirements of the Award are as follows:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Here goes:

1. Thank you Will for the nomination.

2. I was born in London.  I write fiction; a task which I tackle with difficulty and displeasure yet keep going back to (why?).  I love Roald Dahl.  I was once mistaken by Jason Donovan as a fan, who gave me a hug and had someone take a photo of us together even though I had no idea who he was at the time.  E.T. makes me cry every time I watch it.  When I was a child, my mother followed the advice of the Lebanese man living in the flat above and fed me a raw egg every day for a year – this was in the 1980s at the height of the salmonella-egg-poisoning scandal.  When I was 19 I decided to go to South America by myself and bought the Lonely Planet guide to the country I was landing in at the airport.

3. Most of the blogs I read are fiction-related so in order to avoid being decidedly un-versatile, I’m just going to nominate a couple:

A Fiction Habit is written by a full-time mother and wife with a serious addiction to fiction. She writes with real passion, knowledge and insight about all things to do with story-telling…

And a new blog by Sara Zaske, which focuses on Young Adult Fantasy books and e-books. Not only is Sara passionate about the genre, but she’s recently completed a novel that falls into this category which she’ll be publishing soon. I’ve read it and it’s very good so keep an eye on the blog for further details…

4. Done!