Drama. By Carson Kreitzer
Cast: 4m., 3w. (with doubling. May be expanded to 7 or more m., 5w.) "Do I dare disturb the universe?" J. Robert Oppenheimer's rise and fall erupt in this kaleidoscopic play exploring questions of faith, conscience, and the consequences of the never-ending pursuit of knowledge. Act One: Math. The fevered wartime drive to build the first nuclear weapon, by a collection of previously academic theoretical physicists, many of them Jews fleeing Hitler's Germany. Success turns to horror when "the Gadget" is dropped, first on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki. Act Two: Aftermath. Oppenheimer confronts his conscience; Russia turns from ally to enemy. The Red scare is in full swing as we shift to the courtroom. Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty, drinks; J. Edger Hoover does the dance of the seven veils; and the Father of the Atomic Bomb has his security clearance revoked, cast out of the world he helped create. In a flash that is the end of his life, J. Robert Oppenheimer paces the desert of the Trinity Test Site, wrestling with his memories and one scary, sexy, unpredictable demon: Lilith, Hebrew mythology's first woman, cast out of Eden for refusing to behave. Hissing in his ear, she goads him to admit what he refuses to acknowledge: an anger that mirrors her own. "Oppie" is haunted by actions, decisions, and a trinity of women—mother, wife Kitty, and lover, Jean Tatlock. Her suicide is never far from his mind; her Communist ties are never far from the government's. Unit set. Approximate running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.