And It Spins Twice
nytheatre.com review by Mitchell Conway
August 17, 2013
For those interested in contemplating the implications of string theory, And It Spins Twice is a good introduction to some of the concepts that are radically altering our understanding of the fundamental constituents of nature. Three of the four roles in the play are theoretical physicists, who each have an opportunity to explicate pieces of this theory as they juggle their personal relationships.
Attempts towards comprehending the incomprehensible reality observed in quantum physics have led to theoretical proposals that will not be proven with data in the foreseeable future, but may reveal a world quite different than the one we inhabit and experience: parallel universes, multiple realities, and hidden dimensions, once thought of as merely science fiction are now possibilities being seriously considered. I want to applaud Angry Bubbles Productions for delving into this complex matter. Alexis Roblan’s play grasps at ideas and worlds we can only dream about, such as the myriad of artwork that resulted in response to Einstein’s theory of relativity, I hope And It Spins Twice represents a trend in theatre of thoroughly reckoning with current revelations in quantum physics. The discovery this March of the Higgs Boson that gives mass to matter, establishing a dynamic field throughout all space quite unlike the ‘empty void’ space has been thought of as, is one of many astonishing developments.
Director Michael Padden’s simple set, some chairs by two white tables, begins with a small white unidentifiable bump on one of the tables. I found this little white bump surprisingly aesthetically pleasing; a rift in the smooth surface. Soon, it is revealed to be a paper note from the husband of physics professor Beth, played by Lucia Grillo, with the information that he is leaving her. In another reality ten years earlier Marlena Kalm’s plays Liz, the same woman as a graduate student of theoretical physics beginning a relationship with Ryan, played by Thom Christensen. While Kalm’s presence as Liz is reassured and down to earth, Grillo’s as Beth is fraught with delusion and fear, permeating even her lectures.
Gravitons: units of gravity that are shared between universes existing right next to each other with one completely undetectable by the next. Liz hypothesizes that small fluctuations in gravity can indicate when universes/membranes may be about to collide. Her discovery of this possibility occurs simultaneously with an instance of such fluctuations at the CERN particle accelerator. The creation of our universe, the big bang, possibly occurred as a product of two membranes colliding, so Liz has predicted the demise of our universe and creation of another.
Generally the scientific talk was clear to follow, but on one occasion Liz is explaining the possibility of multiple universes to Ryan. She asks him whether he thinks space is infinite or finite, and he responds he thinks it is infinite. From there, she says that since there are a finite amount of particles in the universe, duplicates of the same reality with small variations exist throughout. He concludes there may be another reality where he is Bono, the singer from the band U2. I’m unable to connect those dots. I’m familiar with the proposition that if we take the hypothesis that time is infinite and there are a finite amount of particles, the universe’s finite particles will rearrange themselves in every possible manner and in fact repeat every variation for all time. So this life as we know it we will live out indefinitely on repeat, in addition to its innumerable variations.
It’s impossible to see quantum reality. Through a parallel to romantic relationships And It Spins Twice tries to offer a feeling of other possible lives, and even their convergence.