Sunday, May 17, 2015

Oppenheimer

Lunch  yesterday followed by the  play Oppenheimer at the Vaudeville Theatre was a birthday present from younger sister

Really excellent too. The play about the race to produce the worlds first atomic bomb towards the end of WWII and essentially a part biography of the American scientist J Robert Oppenheimer was far more interesting and entertaining than its title might suggest.

Very cleverly interspersed between on stage heated debates and bouts of learning  about nuclear physics were sessions involving beautifully dressed men and women dancing drinking and flirting as people have done and  perhaps always will  when possible.  The whole play was mesmerising and kept us fully absorbed for the whole of its three hour length. Clearly Oppenheimer was putting it mildly, eccentric. However I suppose each of us is eccentric in some way after all what is a 'normal' human being exactly? But Oppenheimer's eccentricity  was heavily focused on  his scientific work. He had a beautiful wife and equally beautiful mistress but when the latter bore him a child he could not bare to take up the responsibilities of father hood.

Meanwhile WWII continued and there was a rather well crafted piece of the play when a man fully dressed in German military uniform sang German patriotic war songs from the first tier gallery. There was also much singing of the communist "Red Flag" as those were the times when  young American intelligentsia  flirted with communism with the USA government then taking huge steps against it.

The A bomb testing in a desert in the USA was exciting from the point of view of spectacle though the women actors depicted their huge concern about only men being permitted to view the detonation in the desert despite the important work on the project undertaken by women at the time.

The  war in Europe thankfully ended  before the bomb could be used in Germany which left Oppenheimer and the other scientists wondering if  their work was too late so that their time was not to come. However the decision to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima was taken; an  A bomb was wheeled onto the stage and gripping moments ensued as the count down to its detonation took place. Oppenheimer whose conscience  was a concern for him was advised that he should wear the military uniform, which he had been resisting, as the A bombing of Japan was not his responsibility but that of the armed forces and the States collectively.

A very thought provoking section of the play  then  comprised a scene in which a small boy climbed the high lighted A bomb stand and made a speech about the principles of using such devices in war. We were left with the question of whether the decision to use the A bomb which killed so many innocent men women children and babies in Japan in order to shorten WWII and save lives, was justified.

In my humble opinion and of course with the benefit of hindsight, the use of the Bomb was not justified and never could be.

A brilliant thought provoking yet entertaining play.

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