November 3, 2001 10:07 AM   Subscribe

qed is a new play about the nobel-winning physicist richard feynman. the idea is intriguing, and if anyone should get the one-man-show treatment it's feynman. but does the idea of alan alda playing feynman seem slightly off somehow?
posted by pxe2000 (14 comments total)

Better Alda than Jim Carrey, right?
posted by jragon at 10:17 AM on November 3, 2001

or matthew broderick, certainly.

i guess in both cases the actors in question are too traditionally handsome nice guy types that their portrayal of feynman kinda defeats the purpose.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:25 AM on November 3, 2001

I think Alda would be a very good choice, as long as he can do a convincing Brooklyn accent. One of the strange things about Feynman was how intelligent he was while simultaneously being so unpretentious; he always sounded like a truck driver even as he was saying the most profound things.

But I have confidence that Alda can handle it. Feynman's accent was distinctive but hardly unusual.

I really miss Feynman. He was one in a hundred million.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:59 AM on November 3, 2001

Almost a year ago I saw "Copenhagen" in London (now closed there, but playing on Broadway, it seems). Consisting almost entirely of conversation between Bohr and Heisenberg, it was pretty heavy on the physics, so I'm not sure how much most people enjoyed it. I thought it was great, but my girlfriend was utterly bored by it, I think.

I can't tell for sure, but it seems that "qed" is more about the life of the physicist than the physics, so it may fare better.

Do people ever write plays about chemists or biologists?
posted by whatnotever at 11:03 AM on November 3, 2001

Do people ever write plays about chemists or biologists?
wasn't there a one-woman show about dian fossey at one point? (please, no bob FOSSE jokes.)

speaking as a filmmaker with a rudimentary knowledge of physics, i find that having knowledge of physics makes me a better filmmaker. they're kissing cousins, y'know. :)
posted by pxe2000 at 11:12 AM on November 3, 2001

Alan Alda was always involved in the sciences, as his hosting of the Scientific American specials indicates. I think he brings a knowledge and respect of Fenyman and the sciences that few actors have. As for plays about the sciences, there's currently a wonderful Broadway play called Proof that follows the life of a cryptic mathematician and his brilliant daughter. It involves a wealth of mathematical history, including aspects from the life of Ramanujan and John Forbes Nash.
posted by harrycaul at 12:33 PM on November 3, 2001

There was (still running somewhere? don't know) a play about the wonderful Buckminster Fuller.

Alan Alda doesn't make sense. Feynman was quirky in a funny, natural way. Alda has always struck me as being a little fake (liked him in MASH (TV), though); can't stand those Scientific American episodes on PBS.
posted by mmarcos at 1:33 PM on November 3, 2001

"Breaking the Code" by Hugh Whitemore is a play about Alan Turing, English mathematician and computer scientist. He was one of the Bletchley Park researchers who cracked the German Enigma codes during WWII.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:38 PM on November 3, 2001

Do people ever write plays about chemists or biologists?

"The Race for the Double Helix" (1987), starring Jeff Goldblum and Tim Pigott-Smith as Crick and Watson. (Sometimes shown as "Life Story") A *very* good movie.
posted by RavinDave at 2:02 PM on November 3, 2001

mmarcos: thanks for nailing the inherent problem with alda as feynman. i was tossing around ideas with a friend of mine and the best potential casting coup we could think of was rene auberjonois. elliot gould would work, too, if they put him on a starvation diet.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:21 PM on November 3, 2001

I caught Fermat's Last Tango, which was actually billed as being "based on the recent proof by Andrew Wiles", this summer. That that musical had any popular appeal bewilders me. Nonmathematicians, I'd presume, wouldn't find a musical about mathematics (which included some pretty technical references) to be all that interesting, and the audience of mathematicians who watched it with me got rather frustrated about the mathematical content.
posted by isomorphisms at 6:05 PM on November 3, 2001

I think Alda has the skills to deliver Feynman...who's gonna play the strippers though?

mmarcos, I once delivered a perfect one liner about the Geodesic toilet, the Bucky Bowl. Maybe I should audition?
posted by m@ at 8:22 AM on November 4, 2001

OK, but first, how does one sit on a geodesic toilet?
posted by mmarcos at 2:04 PM on November 4, 2001

by applying force with both cheeks evenly, of course.
posted by m@ at 4:53 PM on November 4, 2001

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