2013 01 00 - BBC Radioplay ’ Copenhagen ’

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Benedict’s breathtaking monologue from ’ Copenhagen ’ can be listened to here .

Caption of the picture : Simon Russell Beale and Benedict Cumberbatch play two geniuses of Quantum Physics. Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg meet for the first time since the outbreak of war.

Copenhagen - The Radioplay

A broadcast of the radioplay ’ Copenhagen ’ has just ended.

And I have to say. I am really grateful to Benedict. Because he chooses his projects, because he thinks they are worth his involvement. Because they deserve to be seen or heard.

And I ? - I probably wouldn’t get exposed to them without his involvement (apart from The Arsonists, maybe, which we had to read at school, in our German lessons).

And I had only a vague idea before what ’ Copenhagen ’ in its entirety was about. Yes, about moral responsibilities of scientists, of course, but what is the story told in the piece ?

And I just lay down in the dark, headphones over my ears, and I had to listen to it, instead of going to sleep.

And it’s so precious. It is about humanity, and about the love for science and exploration and gaining knowledge. And, like ’ Hawking ’, at times it got a bit hard to grasp and to understand the science behind it, but then I remembered the awe I had for exactly the same matter of physics and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and the mechanics behind a chain reaction in a reactor and, yes, in an atomic bomb, when I heard about these topics first at school, and how eager I had been as a teenager, to get to know about these things and to widen my horizon.

And so I was feeling like sitting in the same boat as those scientists back then, and I could understand their passion and their sheer drive.

And I absolutely loved it how no-one in the play was drawn either black or white. It’s so easy to lay the blame, but the story explained it to me. How everything depended on everything, and everything could have gone quite differently when just one single action had occurred differently - with major consequences for the whole planet.

The play made them all human to me, understandable. Normally scientists are in a different league than me, who can understand their decisions ? But this play made them all relatable to me, suddenly, there was the human element, and I could picture myself in their positions.

And I wept. I wept so many times during ’ Copenhagen ’. But most of all, I wept for Heisenberg. Benedict Cumberbatch managed to bring him so close to me, warts and all. All his facets. All his failures and all his achievements, and all his insecurities.

I really, really doubt any other actor in this role could have moved me that much, that’s just his brilliance as an actor.

But the play, the way that it is written, is brilliant as well. The questions it poses, and the story / stories it tells.

And I loved the end, which came a bit unexpected for me, the conclusion it had. But I am a cold war child. And all this had been a possibility for me for all of my life, and it still can happen.

So ’ Copenhagen ’ matters. Please find a way to hear it, or to see it on stage.