ALBERT EINSTEIN: RELATIVELY SPEAKING
by John Hinton.
Southwark Playhouse (The Little) 77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD To 3 January 2015.
Fri, Sat 5pm.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 December.
Crazy-looking scientist making sense of scientist.
I have this special theory that if Albert Einstein had had a different hair-stylist (or, indeed, any hair-stylist) perception of him and his work would have been quite different. Not that they would, so far as people generally are concerned, be more easily understood, but different. That wild, electrified-looking assemblage on his head tends to align him with Victor Frankenstein in one of that doctor’s less self-controlled phases. Even the names have a resemblance more suspicious than auspicious.
Anyway, John Hinton’s show (from Tangram Theatre) sets-out to demystify and explain. Giving what seems his inaugural lecture at Princeton University in 1933, Hinton’s Einstein nevertheless addresses us as the scientific simpletons some of us, at least, still are. He employs audience volunteers to demonstrate points relating to the speed of light – though given his enthusiasm it would be hard to decline. And if most of these volunteers have come as couples, there’s an aptness to relating their relationship to Relativity.
Amid his enthusiasm it would be easy to miss how this man of science implies time-travel by acknowledging among the audience, supposedly at Princeton, the two Americans, Michelson and Morley, who had shown light moves at a constant speed, but had died several years before Einstein arrived on American shores.
We learn the man who shaped the future of physics, couldn’t manage the simple matter of finding his own socks. And, relatively speaking, that his second wife was his first cousin. Never mind, for this is an entertaining hour, good-tempered and unflinchingly energetic. There is an alternative version for younger audiences, making the science simpler and exploiting less the innuendo evidently latent in scientific investigations.
At Princeton, of course, a lot of what’s said would have been unnecessary, but other kinds of relativism could have appeared more acute. The contrast between Einstein’s honoured status in the USA and the Nazis’ wish to wipe him, absolutely, out. Or the way history made the man who wanted peace write to he American President urging development of the atom bomb. When it comes to history and the individual, everything it seems turns-out relative.
Albert Einstein: John Hinton.
Elsa/Mileva/Mother: Jo Eagle.
Director: Daniel Goldman.