Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Sixteen chorus members

Sixteen chorus members,

a violinist

a violinist, and

four lead actors

four lead actors, each of whom wears a costume based on a photograph of Albert Einstein: baggy pants, suspenders, a short-sleeved shirt, and sneakers. The violinist actually resembles and represents Einstein, who played the violin; the other cast members perform actions and use props in ways that are loosely suggestive of Einstein’s habits, appearance, and work. In the first scene of act 1, for example, a female dancer carries a pipe (Einstein smoked a pipe), a man scribbles equations on a blackboard, and a boy standing on a tower carries a glowing plastic tube and launches paper airplanes. The performers’ speeches contain references to numbers, stars and planets, light, gravity, and limitlessness, and two of the lead actors appear as astronauts in the penultimate scene, which seems to represent a nuclear apocalypse. No performer takes a fixed role; instead, the performers, music, sets, and lighting work together to create images and scenes to which the audience can assign meaning. Nevertheless, the four lead actors (two women, an old man, and a boy) do appear and reappear in various recognizable “parts.” In two scenes reminiscent of a trial, the old man and the boy sit on the judge’s bench, one woman is a defendant, and the other woman is a witness. The chorus stands in the jury box....

(The entire section is 502 words.)