‘OPPIE’ at Custom Made Theater

I forgot to mention this before I went off on a blissfully calm weekend up in the wine country, followed by a heat wave that is hitting me doubly because I live on the top floor of an un-air-conditioned Edwardian and heat, you may have heard, rises. However…

op.pngOn Thursday, my writer’s group got together to see one of our own star in Carson Kreitzer’s The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Ian Walker plays Oppenheimer himself, and he does a bang-up job of it. He’s a compelling presence onstage, and I’m not just saying that because he said good things about the last thing I brought into group.

The problem with the piece is that it’s essentially a one-man biography show. There are other characters sprinkled around in an attempt to disguise the episodic nature of the story, but none of them are very fully-drawn. The other scientists are pretty much interchangeable, and the women don’t get enough stage time to develop. So the dramatic through-line is difficult in that…there doesn’t seem to be one.

That said, there are some beautiful moments of poetry and language, and some really interesting parts when the biblical character Lilith (played by Jessica Jade Rudholm) confronts Oppenheimer and his guilt. She’s onstage almost the entire time, but whenever she and Oppie are actively dealing with each other, the play really comes alive.

The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Carson Kreitzer, at Custom Made Theater, 965 Mission, San Francisco, EXTENDED through May 2. Tickets at custommade.org.

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