View Our Facebook PageView Our Facebook PageView Our Facebook Page
Your Guide to Cultural
Arts in America
Art Museums, Theater, Dance
& Music Happenings in 90+ Cities!
or go to
Arts America Blogs

Must see, thought provoking, entertaining, EINSTEIN, at Actors’ Summit

Roy Berko

Member, American Theatre Critics Association, Cleveland Critics Circle


Brian Zoldessy, one of the area’s most awarded actors, seems to be making a career of bringing real people to life.  He was Ned Weeks, the AIDS activist in Ensemble’s THE NORMAL HEART, Sigmund Freud, the recognized father of Psychoanalysis in Actors’ Summit’s FREUD’S LAST SESSION, and now he’s reincarnating the renowned physicist, Albert Einstein.  He won both Cleveland Critics Circle and Times Tribute Theatre awards for the former two roles, and the odds are he’ll be receiving similar recognition for his most recent portrayal.

EINSTEIN, now on stage at Actors’ Summit, is a one-performer snapshot of the personal life and scientific revelations of the German Jewish scientist who changed the understanding of the world of science.

We observe as Einstein tells the tale of his going from gymnasium (high school) drop-out to one of the most revered men on the planet.  We see him argue with peers, teachers, professors and other men of letters, as he rejects teaching methods which discourage creative thinking and stress rote learning.

This is the man who seems to be a typical absent minded professor, losing his pipe, glasses, letters and papers of importance, even forgetting where he lives, but, in reality, living in a world where he is overwhelmed with internal thoughts that get in the way of his travelling through life with organization and clarity.  He is a man who is less than an acceptable husband and father because his world is consumed with probing theoretical thoughts.  He is always in the office located in his mind.

We become aware that, at age 26, Einstein had a miracle year.  In a short period in he published 4 groundbreaking academic papers, established the building blocks of quantum theory, proved the existence of atoms,  conceived the theory of relativity, including the equation of the matter-energy conversion rate, E = mc2, often dubbed the world’s most famous equation.

He is the pioneer who explored new frontiers in science, opposed quantum mechanics and the Big Bang Theory, while becoming a fighter who brought refugees from Hitler’s Germany and was proposed as the President of Israel.

Potential audience members may fear seeing a play of deep scientific matters that will be boring and hard to understand.  Fear not!  Writer Willard Simms has overcome those issues by using “a conversation with the audience” format.  Einstein wanders the stage, talking to the audience, clarifying his ideas with stories, jokes, absent minded forgetfulness, and written and drawn examples.  He keeps the ideas on the shallow side, which may be frustrating to scientists, but works well for the rest of us.

Praise for this production’s staging was heard from a large number of MENSA members, people who score in the 98th percentile or higher on standardized IQ tests, who attended the opening night performance as a group, as well as Kent State University advanced science students, and the “regular” members of the audience.


The script is light on some details of Einstein’s life, his theories, and motivations which developed his acceptance/rejection of God and organized religion, his skepticism, and the causes of family conflicts, but the general concepts are there.

Simms does help open the doors to understanding why Einstein was perceived as arrogant, his belief that only musical composers and scientists express the unknown and the power of the universe, his strong stand against injustice, acceptance of Zionism, and beliefs in morality.

The winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt in the 1940s about Germany’s potential development of “extremely powerful bombs of a new type.”  His action helped develop  the Manhattan Project which gave birth to the atomic bomb.  In an about face, when he discovered that the Nazis could not develop a similar weapon, ironically because they had either killed or expelled their Jewish scientists, Einstein denounced the idea of using the newly discovered nuclear fission as a weapon in the now famous “Russell-Einstein Manifesto.”

Actors’ Summit’s production, is excellent.  A. Neil Thackaberry directs the show with precision and Brian Zoldessy is brilliant in his portrayal of Einstein.

On stage, alone for an hour-and-a- half, Zoldessy become the great scientist.  Rather than portraying Einstein, Zoldessy becomes the hair flying, unkempt genius.  He does not allow the audience’s attention to wander.  His is not a good performance, it’s a great performance.  Wow!  Standing “O!”

Capsule judgement:  EINSTEIN is a must see production that offers an opportunity to access the man and his myths.  It also allows for a showcasing of Brian Zoldessy becoming Einstein!

 There are after-production discussions by science educators following some performances.  Check the theatre’s website for dates and panel members!

For tickets to EINSTEIN, which runs through February 1, 2015, call 330-374-7568 or go to