Princeton New Jersey, 1933. The inaugural lecture of the eponymous Dr Albert Einstein; German-Swiss-American Jewish, physicist, Nobel prize winning, pacifist, father of the A bomb. Dr Einstein welcomes the audience to the theatre himself, immediately putting (most of) his ‘students’ at ease, before romping through a synopsis of his life and world changing works.
John Hinton (actor, writer, musician) has written a show which easily spans the genres of entertainment and education. He plays a compelling caricature of Einstein, teaching us effortlessly about special relativity with the ease of describing the simplest addition. Inertial frames of reference are brought to life with the help of a little speed dating and Einstein’s most famous equation is summarised in rap (though if you can’t sign YMCA with your fingers you’ve no chance of keeping up). Hinton is ably supported by Jo Eagle who plays his ex-wife (physicist Mileva Maric), wife/cousin and mother, deadpan, whilst ramping it up on the keyboard. Most of the show flows effortlessly, even a slight lull around the middle is soon put to bed with a witty physics ditty.
1933 is also infamous as the year that Hitler came to power. Having renounced his German citizenship and fled the country, a bounty on his head, Einstein is lured into creating the atomic bomb, by virtue of the scientist’s quest for knowledge and the threat of Nazi Germany winning. Cleverly and poignantly, Hinton makes us all complicit.
The Big Bang Theory has made physics a bit more sexy (and perhaps even physicists), so if you want to see a show with newtons of education and kilos of entertainment value, then Tangram Theatre’s production is the one for you. Tickets may go at the speed of light.