Comedy Tragedy

Werner Heisenberg is best known for two things: the uncertainty principle that bears his name, and that same name becoming the pseudonym for homicidal meth kingpin Walter White on “Breaking Bad.”

But in this summer’s Downtown Dance Collective production “Copenhagen” directed by Joshua Kelly, Heisenberg takes on another form — memory.

“Copenhagen” is a three-actor play written by Michael Frayn about one evening when Niels Bohr, Heisenberg and Bohr's wife Margrethe have a conversation that changes the course of history.

The play won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Play, and while its overarching themes are complex and abstract, it is rooted in human emotions and interests.

“Frayn is no stranger to the deeply conceptual,” Kelly said. “Like all good theater, it has to translate. The vision is a play about three people who desperately need something from each other, and those intimate, interpersonal relationships.”

Kelly “found exactly the cast I wanted,” and acknowledges the immense amount of strain each actor goes through while acting on a stage with only three fold-up chairs, with nothing to hide behind.

That design places a lot of pressure on the three actors. But they feel up to the task.

Thain Bertin, who plays Heisenberg, sees the difficulties in his character, the genius mathematician struggling with loyalty to country and revulsion for what is going on within it, but understands the deep and complex issues surrounding him.

“The patriotism he feels, the genuine love for his country, is something I can understand,” Bertin said. “It’s a realistic idea of struggling to do what is right, even if you’re not sure if it’s cowardice or bravery.”

E.T. Varney plays Bohr and Leah Joki takes on the character of Margrethe.

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