Marilyn, Dimaggio, and Einstein walk into a bar…

By Darren Friesen

Imagine being a ßy on the wall in a New York City hotel room in 1954, overhearing an impromptu conversation with the four most famous people of the 20th Century. Sounds enticing doesn’t it?

Look no further than Theater Junction’s season opener, Insignificance by Terry Johnson for a glimpse of Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Senator Joe McCarthy. This unlikely gathering of famous figures is the basis for this play.

The premise behind this witty comedy begins as the Actress seeks out the Professor (as they are called in the play) one night in his New York hotel room. Her intentions are to describe her theory of relativity. Although our memories of Marilyn are of a sassy, buxom blonde with little-to-no intelligence, Johnson portrays her in a different light: a women attracted to intelligent men,who sought to acquire intelligence herself.

As Insignificance continues, science plays an underlying theme. The Professor and the Actress develop a personal and private rapport. Their conversations include her unhappy marriage and his paranoid and introverted attitude toward society in general. Most importantly, the characters emphasize the personal trials and tribulations in their lives. The introduction of the other two characters, the Ballplayer and the Senator adds to the excitement of the discussions between these four historical figures

Insignificance is a thought-provoking play. Amongst the cozy confines of the Dr. Betty Mitchell Theatre this revival piece will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter and amusing anecdotes, but at the same time feeling sorry for people with whom you never thought you could empathize. Its power lies in how the characters are not elevated to a great physicist or an admired sex symbol–instead, they are normal folks who suffer the woes of the average person.

In Theatre Junction’s production of Insignificance, actors Jim Leyden (the Professor), David Chapman (the Ballplayer), Lisa Ryder (the Actress) and Glenn Nelson (the Senator) display excellent chemistry. All are very convincing, given the difficulties related to the figures they had to play. Most notably, Ryder and Leyden gave extremely moving performances which give this play its charming character.

Insignificance is a wonderful play for those interested in American society at its best. The cast and crew have recreated Johnson’s play with style and sophistication. Insignificance is an appealing achievement and a must-see that is playing at the Dr. Betty Mitchell Theatre until Oct. 23.


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