"It is known that scientist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) once conducted an experiment in which he put a needle into his tear duct. What is not known is why. Using this fact Lucas Hnath has constructed a fascinating, provocative and intriguing new play attempting to explain the circumstances around this event. The centerpiece of the 2013 First Light festival by Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project, Isaac’s Eye has received a spellbinding production by Linsay Firman. The play makes you understand the working of the minds of scientists in general and geniuses in particular. In addition, Hnath has blown the cobwebs off the historical play which he recasts in a contemporary light.
Hnath takes three risks which pay off beautifully, although they might have backfired: he uses an omniscient narrator, he tells his 17th century story with the actors dressed in contemporary clothing, and he begins his play as a lecture. All of these elements one would probably be told in drama school to avoid; however, here they are part of the play’s charm. Isaac’s Eye begins with a witty chalk and talk discourse delivered by the amiable Jeff Biehl, informing the audience about what facts are true and what events the play will present that are untrue about the career of Newton. He then takes us back to 1666, the year of the Great Plague of London. Biehl’s subsequent narration hints at why Newton’s life took the course that it did and why the legacy of Robert Hooke, Newton’s nemesis, has been forgotten today."
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