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Copenhagen is an extreemly difficult play to do. not just because of its dense subject, but because it doesn't follow a narrative structure. There are none of the conventional markers that can signal to an actor when the critical passages and emotional beats are. That is what makes each adaptation interesting, as each actor will play their historical character with slightly different emphasis on different passages.
Unfortunatelly, none of the actors seem to be doing this hear. We know Cumberbatch can play the tortured genius extreemly well, but his enjoyability as an actor comes from his ability to give cerebral characters emotional depth. But here, his performance (along with the other actors) is uniformly at 50%.
If you read the play with a careful understanding of the history behind the events it is disecting, you will see that Frayn has strategically inserted moments of levity and moments of shock to punctuate what would otherwise be historical narration, which gives the play it's emotional core. There are times here when the characters should be laughing with eachother, and times when they should be almost at eachother's throats. But nothing of that emotional level occurs in this performance.
This is even more tragic, as this is the type of play that requires multuple listenings to follos, and an emotionally flat performance is the least enjoyably to listen to over and over. I would not recommend this version of this play.
I never quite understood the practice of reviewing a play immediately after finishing it; I think I need some more time to ruminate on this one. I didn't love the play, but it was still solid. The acting is phenomenal, though, particularly in the part of Mr. Cumberbatch. Very engaging, well motivated, and clear. It helped bring the play to life!
Very deep play well acted and food for thought makes you also ask questions about ethics and what our omissions or actions lead to
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Would you listen to Copenhagen again? Why?
Yes. "Copenhagen" is both tightly focused and yet open in its conclusions - and because the story it tells was a key event in the history of the Second World War and beyond - mainly because nothing happened as a result.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Copenhagen?
It is not a play that depends on single moments.
What about Simon Russell Beale’s performance did you like?
He catches the seriousness and yet the oddity of the meeting between Bohr and Heisenberg.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
What did they talk about?
Any additional comments?
This audio-play for three voices -- Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Margrethe Heisenborg -- is tough but rewarding going. The two physicists circle round each other during Heisenberg’s 1941 visit to occupied Copenhagen, sometimes talking but, more often, talking about each other, with Margrethe as a troubled commentator. At stake is the Nazi’s project to build a nuclear bomb (with, had they known it, the Cold War that followed World War 2) and Frayn imagines the conversation, in the apparent absence of any record of what happened when they met. Ideas matter is the theme of this tense but always indirect play. From the title onwards, it is the indirection that marks out “Copenhagen” as unusual and remarkable drama.
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