The Principle of Uncertainty (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

The Principle of Uncertainty

Quantum physics reaches its limits

Since the Fringe is dominated by monologues, The Principle of Uncertainty stands out for having an excuse for the protagonist to be explaining themselves to an audience: a university professor (Abi McLoughlin) is introducing the class to the basics of quantum physics, and the first act presents information about the strange behaviour of particles in a lecture format. But having explained the equations, she finds herself drawn into her tragic memories and the hard facts of science become a metaphysics that offers a religious hope for a triumph over death.

The script is elegantly constructed: while the professor appeals for sympathy, her espousal of science is undermined by her need for something spiritual, a consolation against mortality. Crisply directed and performed with an animated enthusiasm, Uncertainty slips into the areas of probability and either exposes the false confidence of scientific absolutism or identifies the tenacious nostalgia for philosophical certainty. If its scientific information is accurate, its picture of heartbreak is profound, gradually submerging the professor's academic confidence with grief.

While the decision to switch the gender of the professor from the source script does not appear to radically change the direction or meaning of the monologue – which is intriguing in itself – the production expresses both a love for science and a respect for the mysteries of human faith.

Sweet Holyrood, until 23 Aug, 7pm, £10 (£8).

The Principle of Uncertainty

  • 4 stars

Dr Laura Bailey (Abi McLoughlin) is delivering a lecture to her freshers on the subject of quantum mechanics when it turns into a confession that mixes some of the more advanced ideas of physics with the professor's secrets.