Alan Davies emerges on stage to address the room, or so it seems. He speaks of physics and the chances of winning the lottery in the multiverse, asking questions and delivering a few gentle jokes. The audience responds with hesitant heckles before Davies reveals himself to be Henry Brook, a physics professor standing before an imagined lecture room of undergraduates.
David Baddiel’s debut play opens with an ambiguity that winks back to the one-man shows for which he is best known, but settles into uncertain, and awkward, drama revolving around the prof and his Christian student, Edie, who thinks her faith can be proved through the laws of physics. Spurred by her intelligence (and perhaps some lust), the 50-year-old professor embarks on writing a book with the 23-year-old student that tries to prove the existence of God through mathematical equations.
Baddiel clearly knows his Einstein from his Schrödinger’s Cat but the play’s confident knowledge of physics is not quite enough to give it the spark of life. Characters are vehicles for ideas, especially in the all-too-brief early scenes, and dialogue is built around ideological debates. For instance, Henry’s wife, Virginia (Alexandra Gilbreath), who is an arch atheist and star academic, is desperately late for her TED talk abroad but keeps the airport taxi waiting to talk about God and science.
Edie (Leila Mimmack) running rings around Davies’s professor with her equations on how to turn water into wine is just one instance of the play’s unconvincing characterisation and cliche. She is a whizz at the whiteboard, scribbling out theorems as he watches in wonder. She later reveals herself to be another, more baroque, stereotype of a cartoonish evil baddie in a cassock.
A particularly discomfiting cliche comes in the form of Henry’s fellow lecturer and arch lothario, Tim (Nitin Ganatra), who harks back to the days when he could consort with first-year students. If the laddish humour between the men is supposed to be satirical, it ends up sounding antiquated and sleazy. And just because the nickname of “Christian tits” is given to Edie by Virginia does not make it any less sexist and unsavoury. The humour, more generally, is of the grumpy old man variety with pot-shots at Generation Z.
Henry’s character seems half-developed and we are left wondering whether he is as besotted by Edie as Virginia suggests. An attraction is hinted at but under-explored. More problematic is the mystery of Edie’s motivation. She is a bizarre character who might have been more probable were we given even a glimmer of her inner life and intentions.
As a play of ideas, God’s Dice explores the dangers of conflating truth with probability as well as the scary zealotry of online hate and trolling but it also gestures towards being a play about midlife male crisis and marriage meltdown, all of which rumble under its debates on spirituality and science. And so it ends up being about too much and not enough.
- Godliness in the Known and the Unknowable: Alan Lightman on Science and Spirituality
- Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire review: Oh, the places you’ll plunder
- Green Dragon slayer for hire, in a geography department near you – The Review
- ‘First Reformed’ Asks, Can God Forgive Us? Its Director Has an Answer
- Amid Argentina’s Drama, Lionel Messi’s Brilliance Emerges
- Review: Shailene Woodley Braves the Elements in ‘Adrift’
- Review: Basketball Meets Tiananmen Square in ‘The Great Leap’
- Movie review: This new flick gets right everything that 'Mother!' got wrong
- Review: In ‘Log Cabin,’ It’s Gay vs. Trans as the Rainbow Crumbles
- Review: ‘Pose’ Demands to Be Seen
- Review: Pulled Apart by ‘Love and Intrigue’
- Film review: Bergen, Fonda et al a far better cast than Book Club deserves
- Film Review: Mary Shelley
- Monday's best TV: Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley
- Three Reasons Why The Expanse's Third Season Was Its Best Yet
- Rotten Tomatoes releases the Top 10 list of LGBTQ movies for Pride month
- Nature and the Serious Business of Joy
- Neighborhood Threat! "Raisin" Is a Great Musical, and an Important Story
- Doubts About Amazon Prime, Westworld Finale, and Nazi UFO: Best Gizmodo Stories of the Week
- Faking My Westworld Fandom Was So Easy, I Almost Forgot I Was a Fraud
God’s Dice review – Baddiel drama has science, spirituality but no spark have 737 words, post on www.theguardian.com at October 31, 2019. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.