Believe it or not, Los Angeles has quite a thriving live theatre scene. Sure, film and TV are the main entertainment industry, but when you have a lot of creative people all in one place, they find ways to express themselves any way they can. This is just to say that there’s great stuff everywhere. One of these great things is a one-act play being performed every Saturday night until February 9th in a little theater space in Hollywood. Titled The God Particle Complex, it’s a fast, strange journey that takes two scientists quickly from a hypothetical discussion to a universe-imploding paradox. It’s a whole lot of fun, too.
Being the brainchild of writers Chris Bell and Joshua Zeller and under the direction of Debbie McMahon, The God Particle Complex is an absurdist look at theoretical physics, philosophical discovery, personal rivalries, and a guy from the future in a silver Spandex suit. It’s full of hard science and fanciful happenings, all surrounding the search for the Higgs Boson – the so-called “God particle,” which is said to be the elementary particle from which everything derives. The play, which runs a brisk 53 minutes, plays like the twisted offspring of Stephen Hawking and Douglas Adams, who are both, rightfully, thanked and referenced in the program.
The story follows two scientists who have worked together for years trying to determine if the Higgs boson actually exists. When nothing seems to be happening, one of the scientists becomes despondent, while the other seems more or less relieved. They travel underground to spend some time at the Large Hadron Collider, when, suddenly they’re interrupted by a visitor from the future who tells them that there will be a universe-destroying black hole caused by their work and that only they can prevent it. However, they soon realize that this man’s time-traveling may be having a worse impact on everything.
The play does not allow its audience to drift off, since the first several minutes give us the scientific context (the Large Hadron Collider, the Higgs, CERN, etc.) for the events that follow. If there is one sticking point with the script, it’s that there is a LOT of jargon, which audiences might find off-putting, but which doesn’t detract from the ultimate enjoyment of the play. The small cast all do a wonderful job making these fact-spewing characters seem realistic, or at the very least like people.
It’s a small independent production, and so doesn’t have the budget for lavish sets or special effects, but in truth, the story doesn’t need it. What I find most admirable about it is that they’ve managed to tell this enormous, weighty story about the beginning and end of existence without being hampered by the lack of big bucks. It’s the ideas that are the key here, and the lively, clever way in which they’re offered. Science fiction, after all, is about ideas and not spectacle, even if that’s what Hollywood has led us to believe.
The play has four more performances from now until February 9th, Saturdays at 10:00pm at the Annex at Artworks Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by clicking on this link. It really is a delightfully nerdy way to spend the evening. The packed house I saw it with, and I, all enjoyed ourselves greatly.