Is “Heisenberg” really an appropriate title for Simon Stephens’ pensive two-character romance, considering that it has nothing to do with the famed physicist, quantum mechanics or anyone else by the name of Heisenberg?
Stephens, who is best known for adapting “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” for the stage, may be alluding to Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle,” given that “Heisenberg” revolves around the unlikely pairing of Georgie (Mary-Louise Parker), a quirky, impulsive, middle-aged American woman, and Alex (Denis Arndt), a quiet, gentle, much older English butcher.
Manhattan Theatre Club produced “Heisenberg” last year at its small Off-Broadway space at City Center and has now brought it to Broadway. In an attempt to recreate the intimacy of the original production, which was staged along a narrow runway, raked seating has been installed onstage.
It is presented in plain clothing on an empty stage. In all its nakedness, Mark Brokaw’s production resembles an acting class, where only a table and chairs would be available to suggest a setting. As it happens, the play itself is just as thin as the production values.
It opens on an intriguing note: Georgie suddenly goes up to Alex at a London train station and kisses him on the neck. This unusual introduction leads to dinner, dancing, sex and long conversations. But despite its initial promise, this static two-hander quickly goes flat.
Nevertheless, Parker and Arndt play off each other wonderfully. Parker is a wild bundle of energy and whimsy, while Arndt, initially the straight man to Parker’s theatrics, eventually opens up and comes to life.