Page extent: 96
ISBN: 9781783191987
Binding: PaperBack


Tom Morton-Smith

PaperBack (05 Jan 2015)

1939: fascism spreads across Europe, Franco marches on Barcelona and two German chemists discover the processes of atomic fission. In Berkeley, California, theoretical physicists recognise the horrendous potential of this new science: a weapon that draws its power from the very building blocks of the universe.

Struggling to cast off his radical past and thrust into a position of power and authority, the charismatic J Robert Oppenheimer races to win the 'battle of the laboratories' and create a weapon so devastating that it would bring about an end not just to the Second World War but to all war.

Tom Morton-Smith's new play takes us into the heart of the Manhattan Project, revealing the personal cost of making history.

Additional Information

ISBN13 9781783191987
Binding PaperBack
Page Extent 96


One of Michael Billington's top 10 plays of 2015

'Tom Morton-Smith’s play came as a bolt from the blue: a big, panoramic piece about Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, leader of America’s Manhattan project and tragic hero haunted by the implication of his discoveries. “I feel,” he says, “like I’ve dropped a loaded gun in a playground”. What was strongly conveyed, however, by Morton-Smith’s play, Angus Jackson’s production and John Heffernan’s compelling central performance was the excitement of working on the initial atomic experiments in wartime Berkeley. A fine addition to the growing catalogue of scientific drama.' Michael Billington, Guardian

‘Time and again in this triumphantly assured drama… there are phrases that leap out and draw you into the wonder, and the horror, of mankind’s journey to a brave new world of potential total annihilation.’ Telegraph ★★★★★

'"Oppenheimer’s stature is not in question, but do we have a playwright big enough to depict him?” That was the question posed by critic Eric Bentley in 1969. The answer has been found in the shape of Tom Morton-Smith, a 34-year-old dramatist with a handful of fringe credits, who has come up with this massively impressive three-hour play for the RSC: one that shows the father of the atomic bomb and leader of America’s Manhattan project to be a genuinely tragic hero... The result is the most fascinating play about the moral issues surrounding nuclear physics since Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen.' Guardian ★★★★★

‘Where [Arthur] Miller drew a blank, writer Tom Morton-Smith succeeds in presenting the complex character of Oppenheimer.’ Stratford Observer

'Tom Morton-Smith’s exceptional new play gives an inkling of how Oppenheimer could have been so hell-bent on his original course, as well as of the personal sacrifices, betrayals and moral justifications that got him there. It’s an intense, and densely themed production, but also one delivered with ebullient energy, charting the way in which “blood has washed away the chalk dust” of scientific invention.There are echoes of The Imitation Game, too, in its depiction of a group of academics (in one case mathematicians, the other physicists) brought together for a war effort, resulting in a cauldron of differing personalities, egos and political leanings, their private lives tossed around in the urgent rush to win the war.' The Arts Desk 

'Those who bewail the dumbing down of the west End should get an eyeful of this...Playwright Tom Morton-Smith takes us confidently yet fluidly through the dizzying trajectory of US physicist J Robert Oppenheimer from professor to head of the Manhattan Project... Outstanding.' Evening Standard