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Counterweight Theatre Lab's Irreversible is beautiful, sensitive and human

Alissa Smith May 16, 2018 1:00 AM
Counterweight Theatre Lab
Irreversible, Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., and Sundays 6 p.m., through May 27, Pikes Peak Market, counterweighttheatre.com.
Though Counterweight Theatre Lab opened I on May 11 to an audience of only nine people, the cast put their hearts into a performance that left an impression. Irreversible, a play about J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the inventors of the atomic bomb, explores a story that most of us only know in its broadest strokes, and presents an intimate portrait of a man whom history doesn’t often remember fondly. Moreover, it’s scarily relevant to modern discussions of nuclear weapons, war and collateral damage.

The script itself has few flaws — some bogged-down science jargon, a noticeable number of characters saying lines like “you know what I mean,” when sometimes we really don’t — but it’s otherwise beautiful, sensitive and, most importantly, human.

Jude Bishop (Oppenheimer) is the Atlas of this show, carrying the weight of a heavy story with long soliloquies and some intensely emotional moments that would do a number on any sensitive actor. Holding the center in every scene for 125 minutes makes his line fumbles (especially toward the middle and end of the second act) understandable, if a little illusion-breaking.
Another standout performance comes from Mallory Everhart (Indy Queer & There contributor), who plays Oppenheimer’s lover, Jean. She embodies a woman of quiet intensity, hinting at the volatile mental illness that defines her relationship with Oppenheimer without resorting to overt and insensitive expressions of “insanity.”

After a lukewarm opening scene, Counterweight veteran Joe O’Rear pulled together his role as Frank, Oppenheimer’s brother, ultimately delivering a knockout performance. Some of the most heart-wrenching lines and believable human horror come from this character, and my companion and I both agreed he was a major highlight of the show.

A few line hiccups at emotional moments occasionally took the audience out of the show, but the actors always managed to pull us back in, ensuring we didn’t miss the human moments that make Irreversible effective.

Want more history and an insider perspective? Consider attending the performance on May 19, when playwright Jack Karp will join Counterweight for a talkback after the show. Editor's note: This review initially commented on the accent used by Beth Clements Mosley in the role of physicist Niels Bohr. The reviewer misunderstood the target accent, and so that criticism has been removed. We regret the error.