TR Robertson — The latest online play streaming from Solana Beach’s North Coast Repertory Theatre, Einstein Comes Through, written by Marc Silver and David Ellenstein, takes the viewers, for one hour, through the trauma, comedy, struggles and emotional battles of one man simply trying to come to some level of understanding about where life has taken him.
As the play opens, Hank, played by veteran actor, writer, director Jake Broder, is awakening from a weird dream in his cluttered apartment, accentuated by a large, famous picture of Albert Einstein with his tongue sticking out Gene Simmons style. Hank rambles about his dream, trying to understand the symbolism of items like a pool, a fish and clarity of the water. He wanders the apartment, writing in a series of journals and speaking to the large Einstein poster on the wall. He questions Einstein about some of his theories and how he is challenged by the young scientists of his time. Hank is infatuated with Einstein, especially since he portrays Einstein during visits to schools to teach children about the scientist life and importance to the world of science.
Along the way, in a very unusual argument, Hank imagines a large butcher knife is his wife as he plays both himself and his wife in an argument, which lets the viewer know that there is trouble with his marriage, and he has suffered the loss of his son Tommy. Hank sleeps again, only to have another weird dream about a trip to an aquarium and his encounter with a sadistic tour guide. Asleep again, Hank wakes and dons the suit, wig, moustache, and accent of Albert Einstein. Jake Broder is masterful as he wanders in and out of his dream state world, portraying the characters that are important to his life. As Einstein, he responds he is a highly over-rated thinker who is also stubborn and passionately curious. One of Einstein’s most serious regrets is that President Roosevelt did not even open the letter he sent him about the use of the atomic bomb during WW II. We also find out that Hank is presently suffering an “Optical delusion of consciousness” as he is caught in “a prison of restrictions”. He feels “as time passes you find no comfort land and can’t do anything about it”. His suffering and his current situation will become clearer later as we begin to see what has led Hank to his mental anguish, what is his current state of being and the importance of those closest to him. To get to this point in his life, Hank has dropped to the lowest level of despair a person can go. At this point, Hank, who we learn is in a coma all this time, has an epiphany, realizing he has a “moral obligation to act and do service”, even though his world will never be the same.
Einstein Comes Through is an intricately designed play, taking the viewer on a journey through one man’s deepest thoughts and journeys. The twist at the end is a well thought out culmination of a play built almost entirely on a stream of conscious premise. Jake Broder’s performance is powerful and mystifies the viewer as we watch one man’s mental trip to a form of recovery.
The creative team working with writer/director David Ellenstein is Aaron Rumley – Stage Manager & Cinematographer, Marty Burnett – Scenery, Elisa Benzoni – Costumes, Phil Korth – Camera Operators & Properties, Peter Herman – Wigs, and Chris Williams – Cameras.
The play will be streaming on Showtix4U until May 23rd and tickets for the online performance can be purchased at www.northcoastrep.org.