Two science-in-theatre classics featured in the National Theatre’s 50th Anniversary evening of celebration on 2nd November. Scenes from Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia and Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen were revived as part of the gala event broadcast live from the NT’s Olivier Theatre.

Actor Roger Allam, who presented Michael Frayn with a special Laurence Olivier Award in April this year, performed the speech from the close of Copenhagen in which Heisenberg recalls an encounter with an SS soldier in Bavaria at the end of the Second World War.

Rory Kinnear played pompous literary scholar Bernard Nightingale in an excerpt from Act II of Arcadia.

Both plays were first produced by the National Theatre. Arcadia opened in the  Lyttelton Theatre on 13th April 1993, directed Trevor Nunn with Bill Nighy in the role of Bernard. Copenhagen premiered in the Cottesloe Theatre in 1998, directed by Michael Blakemore.

A great poet is always timely. A great philosopher is an urgent need. There’s no rush for Isaac Newton. We were quite happy with Aristotle’s cosmos. Personally, I preferred it. Fifty-five crystal spheres geared to God’s crankshaft is my idea of a satisfying universe.

Bernard Nightingale provokes Valentine. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, Act II Scene 1