2022 celebrates the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Campbell eclipse which proved this theory. As it turns out, 2022 is also the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s receipt of a well-deserved Nobel Prize for developing the law of photoelectric effect. A theoretical physicist and one of the scientific geniuses of our time, Albert Einstein was gifted with mathematical brilliance and creative ways to look outside the box. In fact, developing the theory of relativity and laying the foundation of quantum mechanics and modern physics were only two of Einstein’s contributions to many of the developments and inventions which we take for granted today.
Born in Germany in 1879 to Ashkenazi Jewish parents and raised in Munich, Albert Einstein already showed sparks of genius by the age of 12, when he taught himself algebra and Euclidian geometry over one summer and mastered calculus by the age of 14. Einstein would also prove to be a citizen of the world; he lived in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the U.S. (where he became a citizen in 1940) and visited many other world destinations. This was a man to be reckoned with – a life-long pacifist, a persistent man who never gave up – even when the odds were against him, a hero to many European Jewish scientists when he used his influence to get them to safety during WWII, a man who definitely enjoyed the fairer sex, and – above all – a man who used his extraordinary gifts to create order from chaos and expand our knowledge of the universe.
Life was not easy for the physics prodigy. Despite his massive contributions to science, Einstein was not entirely successful in his personal life. His marriage to Serbian Mileva Maric ended in divorce after 16 years (five living separately when she refused to divorce him). What happened to his first child, a daughter named Lieserl, is not really known. His relationship with his son Hans was distant and fraught with unexpressed anger; his other son Eduard was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 20 and ended his days in a psychiatric treatment center. His second marriage to his first cousin Elsa was stormy and ended in her death in 1936. He had to face Nazism and antisemitism during WWII and failure after scientific failure over the years until he finally reached his goal. At one point, he even suffered a nervous breakdown from extreme stress.
Written and performed by Jack Fry, EINSTEIN celebrates the life of an individual some say was the greatest scientist of the twentieth century. With energy and enthusiasm, Fry takes peeks at various chapters in Einstein’s life from the beginning of the twentieth century to his death from an abdominal aortic aneurism in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1955. With a masterful knowledge of Einstein’s life based on his own extensive research and enormous empathy for the scientist and the man, Fry breathes life into this gifted intellect who could never leave a stone unturned in his search for the truth. Skillfully helmed by Tom Blomquist, EINSTEIN focuses primarily on Einstein’s search for scientific truth and the barriers which impeded him along the way.
For the show, Fry studied with Peggy O’Neal, a vocal coach, to develop just the right Einsteinian accent. Unfortunately, his accent sometimes gets in the way of clarity – but does remind the audience of Einstein’s background. At times, Fry’s propensity to hop around in time and introduce characters (all played by himself) who were important in Einstein’s life makes it somewhat difficult to follow the chronology of the tale. EINSTEIN is a solo show which will appeal to people who want to know more about the man – and especially to those who have a background in the sciences. It is also a highly intellectual production which requires careful attention and, if possible, knowledge about the basics of physics. The program is approximately 85 minutes and followed by a Q&A which proved to be fascinating. This is a chance for the audience to interact with Fry.
EINSTEIN runs through 12/20/22, with performances at 7:30 on Tuesdays (5/24/22, 6/21/22, 8/23/22, 10/18/22, 11/22/22, and 12/20/22). The Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Tickets range from $46 to $65. For information and reservations, go online.
If you can’t make it to the performances at the Santa Monica Playhouse, EINSTEIN is also playing at the Sierra Madre Playhouse (87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024). EINSTEIN is presented at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on 4/2/22 and at 2:30 p.m. on 4/3/22. Tickets range from $25 to $40. For information and reservations, call 262-355-4318 or go online.