‘An Extraordinary Light’ by Morgan Reilly

What is a better staging for a play about a dedicated scientist working in academia, than in one of the chemistry lecture theatres at the University? Everything about the one-woman monologue, ‘An Extraordinary Light’, was understated and impressively performed – a bit like science itself.

The room was lit up brightly and the performance set-up created the feeling that I was waiting to attend what I imagine to be a very ordinary chemistry lecture. However, this English Literature student was very happy to instead hear about the wonderfully sad but inspiring story of Rosalind Franklin. Having never heard of the woman or her discoveries before, I was impressed not only by the story itself but by the entire production of the play. It discreetly captured the gender barriers for women in science, as well as the everyday dangers of working in a lab. However, most importantly ‘An Extraordinary Light’ presented a very vivid impression of Rosalind Franklin, the scientist. Through the monologue form, the actress was able to express the sarcastic yet humble and determined personality of the character. Her words received plenty of laughs from the audience, however, without giving too much away, it also captured social constructions, the quickness of life and the fragility of human beings.

This was first screening of the play and the only performance of ‘An Extraordinary Light’ during Innovative Learning Week; it was a shame there was a small audience as I am sure it would have been well received by students from all departments of the University.

Fortunately, the play will be performing at different Universities in the coming months and will be back in Edinburgh for the Fringe in August. Go and see it!

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