Starting tonight and running through May 3, the Fountain Theatre is presenting the West Coast premiere of Anna Ziegler’s scientific smackdown of a play, Photograph 51, directed by Simon Levy.
In this corner, with a combined total of two X chromosomes and two Y chromosomes, are molecular biologists James D. Watson (Ian Gould) and Francis Crick (Kerby Joe Grubb), the duo whom history has dubbed the discoverers of deoxyribonucleic acid — or DNA if you’re into the whole brevity thing.
And in this corner, with a total of two X chromosomes, is English biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin (Aria Alpert), whose X-ray diffraction images were used by Watson and Crick to formulate their hypothesis.
So, what’s the major malfunction? Rather than receiving credit as a co-founder of DNA, Franklin’s
findings were simply viewed as evidence that supported Watson and Crick’s hypothesis.
Among the questions the production raises are whether Franklin was relegated to history’s footnote because she was a woman and whether Watson and Crick stole Franklin’s data and took all the glory.
No fair looking up the answers!
Anna Ziegler recently won the third annual STAGE (Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration) award for Best New Play about Science and Technology for this play.
Image: Graham Norris and Aria Alpert in Photograph 51. Photo by Ed Krieger.