Dorfman, National Theatre, London
OLIVIA COLMAN, whose DC Ellie Miller is a rock of common sense in Broadchurch, is on brilliant form here. Though in Lucy Kirkwood’s ambitious new play, you wouldn’t trust her with a pair of scissors.
Colman plays Jenny, the loose-cannon sister of top physicist Alice (Olivia Williams).
Through these siblings Kirkwood explores the clash between those who trust science and those who believe it will be our ruination. In this case, between Alice, who works on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland — humankind’s bid to unlock the mysteries of the universe — and Jenny, who refused to inoculate her daughter against MMR because she believed the misinformation surrounding the vaccine. Colman is mesmerising as a mother whose decision resulted in the death of her child.
Yet this is no depressing wallow in guilt. ‘I’m Forrest Gump and you’re the Wizard of f***ing Oz’ — Jenny tells her cleverer sister.
However, a bit like when the Large Hadron Collider has to be shut down, this drama of family strife and high science feels like an experiment that doesn’t quite come off.