In the Lantern Theatre’s production of “QED,” the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman is preparing a lecture entitled “What We Know.”
What we, the audience, know is that a two-hour monologue about a famous person needs to have more dramatic tension, more imagination, more daring, and less by-the-book, “official” structure than in Peter Purnell play, directed by M. Craig Getting.
The play’s title refers to Feynman’s work on quantum electrodynamics, for which he won the Nobel Prize. The play is inspired by the writings of Feynman, and Ralph Leighton’s book, Tuva or Bust!
The play shows that the iconoclastic Feynman did not like “the official way of doing anything.” Unlike Feynman, who won the Nobel Prize by thinking outside of the box, the play works safely within the standard biographical play formula, as Ben Brantley wrote of the original production starring Alan Alda in 2001:
Careful dropping of names and/or awards to establish subject as person of consequence? Check. Scenes in which subject sinks into self-doubts followed by scenes that affirm joy of living? Check, check, check.