REVIEW: The Pittsburgh Tatler, Wendy Arons

“British playwright Tom Stoppard has built a career writing plays about ideas. His first play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, was an existentialist comedy, in which two minor characters from Hamlet take center stage and obsess over (what we know to be their imminent) death. His 1993 masterpiece Arcadia takes on the subjects of chaos, chance, the second law of thermodynamics, and the nature of evidence and truth in our understanding of history. Other of his plays – like Jumpers, Travesties, and The Invention of Love – also weave scientific, philosophical, historiographical, mathematical, and psychological ideas and allusions into dense (and sometimes quite comic) meditations on the meaning of life, the existence of a higher being or order to our lives, and the role played by chance and coincidence.

The Hard Problem may be Stoppard’s headiest play to date, with the pun absolutely intended. The central intellectual question here is the “hard problem” of the title: how do you explain consciousness?…”

by Wendy Arons, Pittsburgh Tatler

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