Copenhagen is set during World War II, when the friendship of two Nobel Prize-winning physicists is tested by the prospect of providing Nazi Germany with the atomic bomb. A mysterious visit by Werner Heisenberg to Niels Bohr's home in Copenhagen in 1941 brings these renowned physicists and dear friends together under trying circumstances and leads to an argument whose consequences may determine the fate of nations. Uncertainty, the quantum mechanical principle discovered by Heisenberg, lies at every turn as he, Bohr, and Bohr's wife, Margrethe, attempt to reconstruct this fateful conversation and unravel their misunderstanding once and for all. This Tony Award-winning play (2000, Best Play) is based on historical characters and events.
Playwright: Michael Frayn
Playwright, novelist, and translator Michael Frayn was born in London in 1933. After two years of National Service, during which he learned Russian, he studied Philosophy at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and his fascination for the subject has informed his writing ever since.
After leaving Cambridge, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Guardian and The Observer, publishing several novels including The Tin Men (1965), winner of a Somerset Maugham Award, The Russian Interpreter (1966), which won the Hawthornden Prize, and Towards the End of the Morning (1967). More recent novels include A Landing on the Sun (1991), which won the Sunday Express Book of the Year, and Headlong (1999), the story of the discovery of a lost painting by Bruegel, shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. His latest novel, Spies (2002), a story of childhood set in England during the Second World War, won the 2002 Whitbread Novel Award and the 2003 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia region, Best Book), and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Book of the Year. Michael Frayn is also the recipient of the 2002 Heywood Hill Literary Prize.
His plays include Alphabetical Order (1975), Clouds (1976), Donkeys' Years (1977), Make or Break (1980), Noises Off (1982) and Benefactors (1984). Copenhagen (1998) was first staged at the Royal National Theatre in London and won the 1998 Evening Standard Award for Best Play of the Year (UK) and the 2000 Tony Award for Best Play (USA). His recent play Democracy (2003), set in 1960s Berlin, and his latest play Afterlife (2008) recently premiered at the National Theater in London.
He has also translated a number of works from Russian, including plays by Chekhov and Tolstoy. His films for television include a series of documentary films for the BBC – among them Imagine a City Called Berlin (1975), Vienna: The Mask of Gold (1977), First and Last (1989), for which he won an Emmy, and an adaptation of his 1991 novel A Landing on the Sun. He also wrote the screenplay for the film Clockwise (1986), a comedy starring John Cleese.
Michael Frayn is married to the biographer and critic Claire Tomalin. His latest book is a work of non-fiction, The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of the Universe (2006).