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Tangle

Clare Duffy, Liz Margree, Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe
Unlimited Theatre in association with the Corn Exchange, Newbury
Northern Stage, Newcastle, and touring
(2008)

Who would have thought quantum physics could be so entertaining?

I have difficulty getting my head around basic scientific concepts - like, how can all objects fall with the same acceleration? I mean, a piece of lead and a piece of wood both accelerate at 32 feet per second per second? That's weird! - so even imagining that two particles, separated by millions of miles, could... Well, Wikipedia says "measurements performed on one system seem to be instantaneously influencing other systems entangled with it."

That's the concept of quark entanglement which is what Tangle is all about. Or rather, Tangle is all about using quark entanglement as a metaphor as well as featuring it in its scientific form. And now my head is spinning, so let's look at the theatre...

In a secret lab buried deep under Wimbledon Common, a scientist, Hamish, who is in mourning for his dead wife, and his female assistant (Jocelyn) are experimenting with teleportation (yes, we're talking "Beam me up, Scottie" here) and Jocelyn is also obsessed with finding her long-lost brother who was adopted and taken to the US at a very early age.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a successful people-finding private detecive, Malcolm who, unaccountably, has a cockney accent which emerged after major trauma, is hired by Flora to find her long-lost uncle, Carlos Miguel Allende, who has vanished after being, many years ago in the US Navy, involved in teleportation experiments. Their search brings them to a secret lab buried deep under Wimbledon Common.

Oh yes, and there is some mention of Uncle Bulgaria...

It's a detective story, a science fiction story (based, as all the best are, on real science), and a comedy. It uses physical theatre techniques and multimedia, a set which is constantly re-configured by the cast - and the biggest stage-full of smoke I have ever seen. The cast (Jon Spooner, Chris Thorpe and Gemma Brockis) slightly underplay - which is right for the piece for it gives it an intimacy which makes the science content easy(easier?) for the audience - except for Lucy Ellison as Flora whose American woman is, like, you know, truly so awesome.

Great fun, intelligent and clever.

"Tangle" is at Northern Stage until 9th February, and then tours to Warwick Arts Centre (12th - 13th March) and the National Student Drama Festival, Scarborough (15th March).

Peter Lathan