Copenhagen by Michael Frayn

I must begin with: I loved it! I loved it! I loved it! I loved it!

How different would the world have looked had the Nazis been the first to build an atomic bomb? Werner Heisenberg, one of Hitler’s lead nuclear scientists, famously and mysteriously met in Copenhagen with his colleague and mentor, Niels Bohr, one of the founders of the Manhattan Project. Michael Frayn’s Tony Award-winning drama imagines their reunion. Joined by Niels’ wife, Margrethe, these three brilliant minds converge for an encounter of atomic proportions.

No spoilers, read on!

So now that my feelings about this play are known…let’s say that yesterday I listened to the play Copenhagen by Michael Frayn. When I read the summary of the play I was intrigued, the concept of imagining and structuring, how a very debated and mysterious meeting, between leading physicist on opposite sides of the political affairs during the second world war, might have went seemed quite interesting. In all honesty I had no knowledge of this piece of history therefore I am so glad I stumbled upon the play and checked it out.

Style of writing and depiction of the story
The way this play is written is absolutely ingenious. I loved it. I loved how the author imagines the thoughts of the characters, how sometimes the thoughts of the characters seem to be riding the same wave and it is as if they communicate telepathically; other times the thoughts of the characters are so distant and reflecting their inner feelings. The recurring images are absolutely brilliantly linked to the portrayal of the personality of the characters, their relationship dynamics, their lives, their history, their work together and even physics concepts. Also the dialogues and the thoughts that the characters have are so well intertwined, so well depicting their complex situation from various perspectives, their personalities and reactions to all that is happening to them in the context of their reality and their feelings of fear, loyalty, love, curiosity, anger and more… From a psychological point of view I must say that I find the depiction of these dialogues and thoughts to be absolutely amazing in portraying the insane complexity of human behaviour and feelings in a context. Superb!

The (hi)story itself
If you are to read a bit of history before reading/listening to this play, you would benefit from knowing:
– a bit more about the context of the meeting,
– why the meeting is so mysterious,
– why it is such an important meeting in the context of our history,
– why this play represents a sort of a fantasy of how the meeting went,
– why the characters are discussing their meeting after their deaths,
– who is Christian and his role in the recurring image of him in relation to the characters and their physics work

Read more, to understand better
To those who would like to read/listen to the play I would definitely recommend reading these articles about the:

The Mysterious Meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg…

and about the play itself, especially 5. Recurring images and motifs…

Why I loved it?
I loved it because it is written in a very imaginative, innovative way – I will certainly check for other works by this author!
I loved it because it is about a favourite topic of mine, that being WW2.
I loved it because it mixes reality and fantasy.
I loved it because I learned quite a bit about the history and people involved.
I loved it because I love physics and it was quite good to be reminded of this fascinating science and I think I did learn a thing or two.
I loved it because the audio production was brilliantly done.
I loved it because when it finished, I felt like it is complete and satisfying.
I loved it because when it finished I felt like I have to tell everyone about this brilliant piece of work and I couldn’t wait to gather my thoughts in a review and share it.
I loved it because now I want to actually go to see this play in the theatre.

This particular audio production of the play (by L.A. Theatre Works) (2 hours long)
I would have to rate this audio production with 5 out of 5 stars, as I found it to be exquisite!

I recommend this play to people who love the history of WW2, to people who would like to experience a brilliant piece of work and to pretty much the whole world, just because I really loved it and I think it’s worth the two hours haha!

I must say that I haven’t written such long review for a book/piece of literature for a long time, and that I acknowledge that I’ve said so many positive things about this play in this review.

I recently finished reading the Mortdecai Trilogy by Kyril Bonfiglioli and although I loved Charlie Mordecai, the unpredictability of the story line, the rich language, the humour and so on, I recognise that I did not say that much about it… Yet, I need to note, that the style of writing and the two pieces of literature are so different that I cannot compare them. I am saying all this, because sometimes, when I go back to my GoodReads ratings and reviews I don’t understand why I’ve rated works the way I did and my memory of the books sometimes doesn’t match my review… And I don’t want to go back to this review and my reviews on Mortdecai and think, that say Mortdecai #2 was not that good or didn’t deserve 5 stars just because I said so many positive things about Copenhagen in comparison. In a way I am reminding my future self, that at this time the ratings and reviews of these works are true to me as they stand…but not to forget that these are such different pieces of literature, that they mustn’t be compared and contrasted.

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