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Copenhagen  By  cover art

Copenhagen

By: Michael Frayn
Narrated by: Simon Russell Beale,Benedict Cumberbatch,Greta Scacchi
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Publisher's Summary

Benedict Cumberbatch, Greta Scacchi and Simon Russell Beale star in Michael Frayn's award-winning play about the controversial 1941 meeting between physicists Bohr and Heisenberg. Copenhagen, Autumn 1941.

The two presiding geniuses of quantum physics, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg meet for the first time since the breakout of war. Danish physicist Bohr and his wife, Margrethe, live in Nazi-occupied Denmark; their visitor, Heisenberg, is German, the two old friends, now on opposing sides have between them the ability to change the course of history.

Frayn's Tony award-winning play imagines the three characters re-drafting the events of 1941 in an attempt to make sense of them. With Greta Scacchi as Margrethe Bohr, Simon Russell Beale as Niels Bohr and Benedict Cumberbatch as Werner Heisenberg. This new version of Copenhagen is adapted for radio and directed by Emma Harding.

©2013 AudioGO Ltd (P)2013 AudioGO Ltd

What listeners say about Copenhagen

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My favorite audio book so far

I love this production. I'm a sucker for radio plays and plays about science and plays about moral conundrums, and this checks all of those boxes. The performances are lovely and subtle - the awkwardness at the beginning of their meeting is palpable. And I especially appreciate the sound design, the ambient noises and changing "locations" of the voices really give you a sense of people pacing a room or doing things as they're talking, which gives it extra depth and reality.

2 people found this helpful

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Performance lacks emotion

Copenhagen is an extreemly difficult play to do. not just because of its dense subject, but because it doesn't follow a narrative structure. There are none of the conventional markers that can signal to an actor when the critical passages and emotional beats are. That is what makes each adaptation interesting, as each actor will play their historical character with slightly different emphasis on different passages.

Unfortunatelly, none of the actors seem to be doing this hear. We know Cumberbatch can play the tortured genius extreemly well, but his enjoyability as an actor comes from his ability to give cerebral characters emotional depth. But here, his performance (along with the other actors) is uniformly at 50%.

If you read the play with a careful understanding of the history behind the events it is disecting, you will see that Frayn has strategically inserted moments of levity and moments of shock to punctuate what would otherwise be historical narration, which gives the play it's emotional core. There are times here when the characters should be laughing with eachother, and times when they should be almost at eachother's throats. But nothing of that emotional level occurs in this performance.

This is even more tragic, as this is the type of play that requires multuple listenings to follos, and an emotionally flat performance is the least enjoyably to listen to over and over. I would not recommend this version of this play.

2 people found this helpful

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Gorgeously acted and produced!

Frayn’s Copenhagen is one of the greatest modern plays, even and perhaps especially for those of us who have never taken a physics class. I have seen it performed multiple times, read the script, watched a PBS adaptation for TV, and listened to two different Audible versions. This edition is STUNNING and an absolute must-listen, whether it’s your first exposure to the play or one of many.

1 person found this helpful

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Gripping

At least I found it so. The drama centers on an encounter between the great quantum physicists and former friends Warner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr in 1942 at Bohr’s home in Copenhagen in the midst of World War II. It was an encounter that apparently actually took place, but which we know little about. At the time, Denmark, where Bohr lived, was occupied by Nazi Germany. Heisenberg, on the other hand, was now working in his native Germany towards the production of atomic weapons. The play gives three possible scenarios for what happened when they met, each one highly possible, each one mesmerizing. I couldn’t stop listening.

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Amazing as Radio Drama

Truly exceptional performance by the trio of actors. The adaptation of the script was perfect for the medium. I’ve always been a huge fan of Copenhagen the script. It’s a difficult piece to pull off but when you can it can run you through the gamut of emotions. Simon Russell Beale, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Greta Scacchi lead you perfectly on the journey. Bravo.

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Here is the power and beauty of Language

Absolutely riveting from start to finish! The characters, the rhythm of the words, the ideas, all held me spell bound.

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Excellent production

Wonderful interplay of physics and real life. Actors performed beautifully. A joy to listen to.

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intriguing

This play reminds me a lot of Disappearing Numbers and Bent in the way that it manipulates dialogue and stream of consciousness. I don't know a great deal about physics, but I was hooked within the first five minutes. All of the performances are admirable, but I must commend Benedict Cumberbatch in particular for his portrayal of Werner Heisenberg; Cumberbatch's melding of humanity and intellectualism is flawless.

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Great Dramatic Interpretation

Top actors and a brilliant script bring to life the roles of scientific egos in a backdrop of atomic research during WWII. Very suspenseful. Loved it. Additional kudos to Frayn for drawing each character equally. How wonderful is Greta Scacchi!

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Acting was great, but I didn't love the play

I never quite understood the practice of reviewing a play immediately after finishing it; I think I need some more time to ruminate on this one. I didn't love the play, but it was still solid. The acting is phenomenal, though, particularly in the part of Mr. Cumberbatch. Very engaging, well motivated, and clear. It helped bring the play to life!

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  • DT
  • 02-14-17

What did they talk about?

Would you listen to Copenhagen again? Why?

Yes. "Copenhagen" is both tightly focused and yet open in its conclusions - and because the story it tells was a key event in the history of the Second World War and beyond - mainly because nothing happened as a result.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Copenhagen?

It is not a play that depends on single moments.

What about Simon Russell Beale’s performance did you like?

He catches the seriousness and yet the oddity of the meeting between Bohr and Heisenberg.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

What did they talk about?

Any additional comments?

This audio-play for three voices -- Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Margrethe Heisenborg -- is tough but rewarding going. The two physicists circle round each other during Heisenberg’s 1941 visit to occupied Copenhagen, sometimes talking but, more often, talking about each other, with Margrethe as a troubled commentator. At stake is the Nazi’s project to build a nuclear bomb (with, had they known it, the Cold War that followed World War 2) and Frayn imagines the conversation, in the apparent absence of any record of what happened when they met. Ideas matter is the theme of this tense but always indirect play. From the title onwards, it is the indirection that marks out “Copenhagen” as unusual and remarkable drama.

5 people found this helpful

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  • enka
  • 06-23-14

Wonderful piece of Theater

Would you listen to Copenhagen again? Why?

Wonderful performances that one can hear time and again without losing any interest.

What did you like best about this story?

Excellent combination of a scientific subject with touching repercussions for all the characters involved and on a larger scale for all of humanity.

Which character – as performed by Simon Russell Beale – was your favourite?

Heisenberg is simply astonishing. His dilemma and life story are incredible.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

One starts to listen at the audio book and time freezes.

Any additional comments?

Frayn has put on paper a masterpiece.

5 people found this helpful

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  • a addison
  • 11-18-15

Thought provoking play

Very deep play well acted and food for thought makes you also ask questions about ethics and what our omissions or actions lead to

4 people found this helpful

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  • London Faerie
  • 11-18-22

Stunning rendition of a masterpiece

I can highly recommend this stunning rendition of Michael Frayn’s masterpiece. I’ve read the play a couple of times but the skilful adaptation and strong performances bring it to life. Deep, moving and complex, as great theatre should be.

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  • Amazon Customer David Harding
  • 08-20-22

BRILLIANT!

Simply a masterpiece. Audiobook reviews have to have a minimum 15 words, but "masterpiece" covers it in one.

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  • "the_gentleman_of_the_bush"
  • 04-02-21

Absolutely Amazing

This completely blew me away and as soon as it finished I wanted to start it over again. Top drawer. Need to see it on stage now!!!

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  • Richard
  • 08-04-20

Brilliant

Incredible writing, brilliantly performed by an excellent cast. Thought provoking and profound but also touching. Highly recommend.