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Review Roundup: HEISENBERG Opens on Broadway!

The Broadway engagement of Manhattan Theatre Club's acclaimed world premiere of Heisenberg, the new play by Tony Award and two-time Olivier Award winner Simon Stephens, directed by Drama Desk Award winner Mark Brokaw, starring original cast members Denis Arndt and Tony and Emmy Award winner Mary-Louise Parker opens tonight at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street), where it will play through Sunday, December 11.

BroadwayWorld has all the reviews for you as they roll in. Let's see what the critics had to say:

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Yet one of the points of this wondrously stealthy play, largely set in London and directed with crystalline precision by Mark Brokaw, is that life is made up of infinite variables that keep combining to unpredictable ends. That's where Heisenberg, the founder of the uncertainty principle, comes into the picture, but don't worry. His name is never invoked directly; this is not an obviously highbrow play.

Linda Winer, Newsday: The actors are back, even more nuanced and riveting, at MTC's Broadway venue, subtly peeling layers off a vastly improbable yet profoundly believable relationship. Director Mark Brokaw's simple, impeccably observed production has little more than a couple of metal tables and chairs with which to burrow into fine-tuned character studies. Again, the audience sits on opposing sides of a runway stage, a meaningful way to keep us close enough to see many sides of the same shifting perspectives of the truth.

Jesse Green, Vulture: That changed dynamic is the other factor in the play's new spin. When I first saw it, the relative hush of the house seemed to favor Alex's arc, which was, at least superficially, more serious and perhaps more relatable: After resisting Georgie as a flake, and even after understanding that her motives in romancing him might be impure, he takes a flier with her in the hope that, sane or not, she can distract him from his profound loneliness. (His only confidant is a long-dead sister, who visits him in dreams.) But in that reading, Alex's influence on Georgie is imperceptible if not beside the point. Near the end, when she describes him as looking "full of wonder," you understand that his insistence on the primacy of observable fact over imputed concepts like mood or even personality have barely rubbed off on her. "It's probably just my retinas," he says. There is no such thing as "wonder," only dead cells floating in vitreous humor.

Joe Dziemianowicz, The New York Daily News: For Mary-Louise Parker die-hards, "Heisenberg" won't disappoint. As the endearing, annoying, unknowable Georgie, half of a May-December odd couple brought together by an unexpected kiss, the ex-"Weeds" dope dealer looms very large. So much so there's just enough oxygen left for Denis Arndt as Alex, the generous and gentle seventysomething object of Georgie's affection.

Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal: The Manhattan Theatre Club has found a recipe for success: Produce pretentiously titled British two-handers about odd couples who meet cute. Nick Payne's "Constellations," which went over big last season, filled the bill to overflowing, and so does "Heisenberg," the latest play from Simon Stephens, who scored even bigger with his stage version of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."

Mark Kennedy, ABC News: "Heisenberg" is as stripped down as theater can get - two chairs, two tables, two actors, one slender script. But Simon Stephens' play also is as sumptuous an experience as theater gets.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Arndt is as amiable and dull while Parker is hyper and unhinged. He needs her eccentricity to reinvigorate his moribund life, if not his heartbeat. Alex says he likes being a butcher because animals have great "seams." He also exhibits an extraordinarily eclectic interest in music. This guy listens to CDs the way some kids used to collect baseball cards. While Alex doesn't deserve Georgie's verbal abuse, you do wonder how she stays awake trying to make conversation with him.

Breanne L. Heldman, Entertainment Weekly: Presumably, playwright Simon Stephens, Tony winner for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, named this work for the aforementioned theoretical physicist, whose uncertainty principle is known for having redefined physics, much in the way Georgie and Alex help to redefine each other. The work, directed by Mark Brokaw, kept its team together following a successful off-Broadway run last year. Despite moving to a larger venue, the play is nothing if not intimate.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: If I understand the oblique title correctly, Heisenberg is about how being with another person-being observed, at close range -can affect your direction. Georgie and Alex are set in their different ways, defining who they are by who they've been; their unlikely romance opens them to things they would not have imagined for themselves. Mark Brokaw's spare production, which played at Manhattan Theatre Club's small City Center space last year, seem even less imposing in the company's Broadway house, but that works to its advantage. Stephens's carefully crafted 75-minute play has a sense of how little its characters matter to the universe. It makes that smallness feel liberating.

Matt Windman, AM New York: It opens on an intriguing note: Georgie suddenly goes up to Alex at a London train station and kisses him on the neck. This unusual introduction leads to dinner, dancing, sex and long conversations. But despite its initial promise, this static two-hander quickly goes flat.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: Stage veterans Mary-Louise Parker and Denis Arndt are the skilled interpreters for Stephens's rich two-hander, a spot-on rumination about joy and sadness, and how either can seep into proceedings where neither may have been anticipated.

Jennifer Vavasco, WNYC: Happily, Parker excels with these kinds of quirky characters and keeps Georgie from floating away on airy charm. She adds gravitas. You can see the doubt and exhaustion and anxiety flicker across Parker's face as she says "cute" things like, "I swear all the time. Sometimes I don't even notice it. Sometimes it just pops out of my mouth."

Christopher Kelly, Parker acts up a storm (she's all anxious tics and mile-a-minute patter), while Arndt takes a more restrained approach - but neither ever fully convinces us that these characters' behavior is rooted in any recognizable reality. Just as in Anderson's movies, these aren't people so much as props being manipulated by their author to create a mood and affect. You either go for this sort of thing and find it endearingly odd, or fast grow weary of it. Even though "Heisenberg" is directed with efficiency by Mark Brokaw ("Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella") and has its share of smart, charming dialogue, I grew weary.

Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: "Heisenberg" begins with a pretty woman having just kissed a stranger, a much older man, on the back of the neck in a London railway station. After some initial awkwardness, a relationship develops. Their encounter is a version of the familiar Hollywood gambit of a man and woman "meeting cute," and what follows is an equally improbable, if sweet, romantic fantasy. It all goes down very easily, thanks to director Mark Brokaw and, especially, the actors in Simon Stephens' two-character play, which opened Thursday night at the Thomas J. Friedman Theatre.

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