The National Theatre's newest play, Charlotte Jones's The Humble Boy, which opens on Aug. 9, is the latest in a number of plays that bring complicated scientific theories to life on stage. The most successful recent scientific drama in the West End was Michael Frayn's Copenhagen, which enjoyed a long run at the Duchess Theatre until a few months ago, and in which the audience had to concentrate intensely on the theory of nuclear physics: a subject which Frayn and his cast amazingly made intelligible - even if only temporarily - to the general public.
Tom Stoppard's Arcadia similarly brought mathematics to a mass audience, while Jones' The Humble Boy deals with an astrophysicist (played by Simon Russell Beale) with Freudian problems - as well as providing a new take on Hamlet, the play in whose National Theatre production Beale has had a year-long international success. Russell Beale's ghastly mother is played by Dame Diana Rigg, who memorably played the ultimate mother-from-hell, Medea, in London and New York nine years ago.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow