The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 57.0°F | Mostly Cloudy


Copenhagen: The Complete Play on 2 CDs

Original Broadway Cast Recording

By Seth Bisen-Hersh

Staff Writer

Nowadays, you don’t have to pay the outrageous price of a Broadway play to experience it. Some of them are available on compact disc. You can buy the disc for less than half the price of seeing the show; plus you can listen to it over and over again. Now, of course, listening to a play, you lose some aspects of the production. You cannot see the actors’ expressions. You cannot see the lights or the set. And most of all, it is much harder to concentrate on a play when you are in your room and know you have an incredible amount of work to do for class. However, if you think of it as a radio play or an audio book, then these aspects’ importance fade away as you listen.

I recently received a copy of Copenhagen. Written by Michael Frayn and directed by Michael Blakemore, Copenhagen won the Tony Award for Best Play last June. The play attempts to recreate a meeting of two famous, Jewish physicists, Bohr (Philip Bosco) and Heisenberg (Michael Cumpsty), during World War II in Copenhagen. Throughout the course of the play, they and Bohr’s wife Margethe (Blair Brown) discuss theoretical physics and politics. They delve into ethical decisions about their work leading to the development of bombs. They talk about European politics. They examine their mentor/protÉgÉ relationship. The line between simply discovering elements’ secrets and using those secrets to develop atomic bombs is debated. It is an extremely well written play that really makes the listener think.

By merely listening to the play rather than experiencing it on a stage, a lot is missed. It is, however, still enjoyable. All three actors are remarkable. Their inflections and emotions come through with full force on the recording. Their angst, hurt, and pain come through perfectly. Additionally, their chemistry comes out in full force. The three work off each other wonderfully.

The only complaint I have with the play is its lack of music. There is none, whatsoever. It would have been much nicer if there was perhaps just a tiny bit of background music. It is sorely missed, especially at the beginning and the end of each act, where it would be nice to have some song from the thirties playing. There actually aren’t any sound effects at all. Thus, the play is just words, words, and more words. The verbosity is a little overwhelming when you are not actually in the theatre totally engrossed by it.

I would highly recommend Copenhagen to any physics major, especially to those who enjoy theatre. It is an amazing look into the intersection of physics, ethics and politics. The recording quality is outstanding, as are the actors. Copenhagen is available at <>.