How did we get here? One day, ‘Mr g’ was bored
CAMBRIDGE — How did we get here? Who or what designed and built this universe we are part of? Why does it work the way it does?
Writer Alan Lightman (“Einstein’s Dreams”), a poet, novelist and MIT physicist, and Wesley Savick imagine the way it might have come down in Underground Railway Theatre’s world premiere production of “Mr g” at the Central Square Theatre.
Savick has adapted Lightman’s “Mr g — A Novel About Creation” for the stage, just as he earlier successfully adapted Lightman’s “Einstein’s Dreams,” as part of the 10th anniversary of the Catalyst Collaborative@MIT program which blends scientific themes with live theater.
The intersection of science and religion can be problematic, especially when it comes to the idea of Creation, and whether our universe was created by a Supreme Being or God — or in this case, Mr g (Jordan Ahnquist), an ordinary, everyday, whimsical sort blessed with extraordinary powers.
In the beginning, there is just “The Void” and Mr g decides one day that that is going to change. “As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I decided to create the universe” is the exact phrase that carries over from Lightman’s text to Savick’s adaptation.
Mr g is bored and decides he needs a challenge and that’s an incentive enough to begin the construction.
Before Mr g got his big idea, there was just Aunt Penelope (Obehi Janice) and her husband, Uncle Deva (Vincent Ernest Siders), who have been alongside him for countless eons, popping in and out, making sandwiches, offering a counterpoint and often support to his decisions.
We are never are told why Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva are there, but they are, and they supportive without being overly judgmental. Without much going on at the time, from that blank slate Mr G could have gone anywhere. And therein lies part of the problem.
M g is all over the place about deciding what he wants to create — multiple universes, perhaps?
“You tend to rush into things,” Penelope says. “Why not concentrate on just one universe?”
So he does. And so he assembles and puts into play the building blocks of our universe: Time, space, three dimensions, a few laws of physics, finally progressing to inanimate matter and finally …. animated matter, with a life of its own.
The devil, so to speak, is in the details, or perhaps the questions raised by the mysterious Neighbor Girl (Melissa Jesser). She is curious and quizzical, and her questioning is both persistent and critical when it comes to the animated matter “It will all end in tragedy.”
Questions become harder and harder for Mr g to answer. How much control should he exert or does he need to exert on the animated matter that eventually become human beings? What are the pros and cons of creating intelligent life?
Should he have the beings under his complete control or should they be free to make mistakes that may have dire consequences? Should these beings be a force for good — or bad?
Mr g as imagined by Lightman may be all-powerful but not all-knowing. His universe is one that he creates through trial and error.
Sara Brown’s set design appears to be a lab of some kind. Or more likely a workshop, with models where things are created and fine tuned– things such as a universe.
“Mr g” is clever, original, often funny. It’s unlikely to offend anyone, no matter what they believe when it comes to Just How We Got Here.
The Underground Railway Theatre production of “Mr g.” Adapted by Wesley Savick from the Alan Lightman book “Mr g — A Novel About The Creation.” Set design by Sara Brown. Costume design by Leslie Held. Lighting design by Jeff Adelberg. Sound and video design by Bozkurt Karasu. At the Central Square Theatre through May 24. http://www.centralsquaretheatre.org