REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams


By Peter Parnellrob riley

Directed by Maureen Payne-Hahner

Produced by

in association with Collaboraction Theatre

At the Flat Iron Building, Chicago

Glimpse into the life of a 20th Century genius scientist, Richard Feynman, a worthy jaunt

“Nature has a great simplicity and therefore a great beauty”

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool”

– Richard Feynman

Peter Parnell’s QED is a glimpse into a day in the life of a quirky genius scientist and creative thinker, Richard Feynman (1918-1988).  Feynman was a Noble laureate in physics, a lifelong teacher and lecture specializing in creative approaches in science that spawned originality. He founded the field of nanptechnology, he was a prolific writer, an accomplished artist, and a musician and actor. He was funny, dynamic and a profound solver of puzzles all his life.   He believed in the closeness of art and science since both required creativity, an open mind, curiosity and the willingness to experiment and to push the limits. Ultimately, Feynman was a free thinker and storyteller extraordinaire and well-loved  personality.

peter parnell

We see Feynman in a typical day that finds him aggressively jumping from one topic or idea to another effortlessly while being troubled by tough medical reports concerning his ongoing battle with cancer. As he juggles many topics, he continues in a stream of conscious series of stories that blend humor, scientific truths with personal quirks. Veteran actor Rob Riley has enough charm, quirkiness and stage presence to make for a believable Feynman. Credit set designer  Courtney O’ Neill with decorating the four walls with endless physics calculations including ample use of mathematical  schemes know as “Feynman diagrams.”

peter parnell

But it is Rob Riley’s impeccable portrayal of the eccentric scientist that carries the 100 minute bio-drama.  Riley swiftly moves from one interrupted story to another effortlessly yet still maintaining a cohesive narrative. We see both the scientist – the inquisitive problem solver, and the human, loveable and humorous side of Richard Feynman. Riley’s performance was impeccably honest. basically, a one person show (with a cameo by Grace Wagner as one of Feynman’s students), QED is a most engaging glimpse into the psyche of a genius. I must confess that I had no previous knowledge (shame on me)  of Richard Feynman but, after seeing QED, I now know the scientist and the man. I’m glad that I spend time with the free-thinking scientist.  Catch QED and see for yourself.

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

For more info checkout the QED page at

At Collaboraction Theatre, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL,  call 866-212-4077, tickets $25,  Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 1hour, 40 minutes with intermission, through December 9, 2012

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