Play explores controversy of atomic bomb

Megan Rozsa

A life-changing question is left in the hands of the audience as the plot of “Copenhagen” unfolds — Is the atomic bomb a good idea?

The Tony Award-winning play “Copenhagen” by Michael Frayn will play at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent sanctuary at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 16.

“Copenhagen” takes place in the wartime of 1941. Two characters, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg are stuck with the decision on whether to turn their idea of the atomic bomb in to their respective governments (Bohr is from Denmark, Heisenberg from Germany). Bohr’s work on atomic fission later contributed to the success of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, N.M.

After the two men meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss their plans, Heisenberg proposes a question to Bohr that ends their friendship. The answer to this question is left for the audience to decide.

“This is a fairly popular play,” said Ted Voneida, a member of the church who plays the role of Bohr. “The whole question of nuclear weapons has a great deal of pertinence to what’s happening in Iran and North Korea.”

The play consists of only three actors: Voneida, Margot Milcetich and Donald Munro. They are all experienced in reading plays.

“We’ve been reading plays for the past two years,” Voneida said. “People have responded positively, and everyone seems to like them.”

Milcetich plays the role of Margareta, Bohr’s wife.

“She’s the person who holds perspective in the play,” Milcetich said. “She is the one that keeps asking the questions. She’s also very cynical.”

Milcetich added that the church has performed plays in the past, such as “Driving Miss Daisy” and a few shorts by Woody Allen. This is the first serious play the church has performed.

“The play is really all about uncertainty and how we live with it,” Milcetich said. “We always think we’re in charge and we end up making decisions in the moment and we have less certainty than we think. It’s a human condition.”

The play is set on a stage that is floor-level with the audience. The three players sit in a circle and act as if the play is just a discussion.

“It’s a positive play,” Voneida said. “And although it’s complex, it’s still really powerful.”

“This play has all the earmarks of a Greek tragedy,” Voneida added. “Here are two men who are dear, dear friends that literally turned physics on its head. And their tremendous friendship ended because of the burning questions left with the audience.”

Contact performing arts reporter Megan Rozsa at [email protected].