Final performances of Quantum's “The Hard Problem” this weekend | Program Notes

Final performances of Quantum's “The Hard Problem” this weekend

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The Pittsburgh-premiere production of the iconic playwright’s most recent work is a splendid staging. It couldn't have been easy to handle Stoppard’s combination of personal journey, social critique and intellectual inquiry into the nature of mind, but Quantum makes it look that way.

Andrew William Smith and Alex Spieth in "The Hard Problem" - PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN ALTDORFER
  • Photo courtesy of John Altdorfer
  • Andrew William Smith and Alex Spieth in "The Hard Problem"
The play concerns a grad student’s new job at a neurological research institute where the big philosophical divides include the one between those who think of the human mind as an opportunistic machine designed by evolution to maximize the propagation of its own genes, and those who think more agency is involved – free will, perhaps, or even, in young Hilary’s case, spirit.

There’s much more to the story, but fans of The Real Thing and Arcadia know that Stoppard writes dialogue like no one else. And while it seemed pretty clear to me what his answer to “the hard problem” is, he gives all sides a chance to make their case with a wit that’s hard to match.

Meanwhile, director Rachel M. Stevens, her design team and cast create a visual spectacle to remember, turning a big, under-renovation room at the Energy Innovation Center into a kind of walk-through memory chamber, and the stage in particular into a multi-level, multimedia feast for the eyes.

Here’s Michelle Pilecki’s review for City Paper.

The remaining performances of The Hard Problem are tonight, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. (Friday’s show is sold out.)

Tickets are $42-48 and are available here. The Saturday and Sunday shows included a gourmet boxed-dinner option for an $18 surcharge.

The Energy Innovation Center is located at 1435 Bedford Ave., in the Hill District.

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