Astrophysics: Out of this World

A Brief Introduction to Astrophysics
Review by Rannie McCants

unnamed42 When the eerie sound effects and blue stage lights faded, I found myself still sitting in the seat I’d picked 45-ish minutes before. This of course doesn’t seem unusual, but at the time, it did to me. I’m grateful that A Brief Introduction to Astrophysics by Jake Rose and Jamie Thomson was the final play I saw for the Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival because it was certainly my favorite.

This play sent the audience through time and space looking for answers about life, death, and everything in between. Reminiscent of Samuel Beckett, the Skidmore playwrights Jake Rose and Jamie Thomson explored the vast nothingness that their two main characters seemed to feel, yet failed to accept.

The play is set in a park after dawn with two old men looking to the stars in the hopes of seeing a comet, or something, out there. Most of the play’s substance comes from the things that are said and less from the things that are done—making the piece feel more like a single moment paused and meditated upon. Walking away, I had this sudden feeling of grief, pain, and confusion that I just couldn’t explain. The kind of effect you’d get listening to a sad song, yet still having that emotional attachment that urges you to listen again.

In an interview with Patrick Hickey Jr, the playwrights stated that this play was written during a cross-country road trip that landed them a two week stay in a remote cabin in Montana. They decided to spend the time in silence so they could look inward to work through their experience in the wilderness. The two writers admitted their past writing history is that of poets and fiction writers, but theater lends itself in being a great medium for literature as well.

Their history with poetry becomes clear toward the end when the piece seems to cut off unresolved. Like poetry, this play is meant to be seen more than once and I certainly hope it will be given the chance to do so.