BWW Review: HEISENBERG at Forward Theater

BWW Review: HEISENBERG at Forward Theater

From the moment James Pickering enters the stage you can feel the electric excitement from the audience. It is heightened by the added presence of Colleen Madden.

Heisenberg is NOT about a German sportscar, it's not really about a German anything. The show is about two of the most unlikely people finding each other, and maybe even love.

Though the name is never mentioned in the play, the name stems from the Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, Werner Heisenberg. The basis of the principle is this; If you watch something closely, you have no way of telling where it is going or how it will get there, but if you pay attention to where it's going and how it's getting there you have stopped watching it properly.

Georgie (Colleen Madden) is a 42-year-old mother of one, with a penchant for telling tall tales and an apparent hatred of silence. Our tale begins when she encounters the rather stoic Alex (James Pickering) in a London railway and chaos ensues.

Georgie, crass, sometimes vulgar and an American living in London, begins this rollercoaster ride by kissing Alex on the back of the neck. Apologizing profusely after the incident, the two strike up a conversation.

Alex tells Georgie that he is a butcher. She can't believe that this quiet, well spoken man is merely a butcher, berating him as he leaves, insisting that he must be a librarian or the owner of an antique book store. Later she "googles" him and begins nearly stalking him at his butcher shop. She won't give up, and he is much lonelier than he would like to admit, and reluctantly on Alex's part, the two enter into a friendship that eventually take them "across the pond", as it were in search of her son.

James Pickering's embodiment of Alex is truly a wonder to watch. He is ever present in his silence, and when he is allowed to speak by the effervescent jabbering Georgie, his words are weighty, prolific and sometimes, joyfully surprising.

Collen Madden for her role of Georgie, does an incredible job of rambling on and on seemingly without a breath between thoughts. As she energetically moves about the stage in direct contrast to Alex, she manages to bring Georgie to life without stealing focus.

This is a beautiful play for many reasons, and I will touch on only two. It is beautifully acted, and it was beautifully written. When an amazing script is merged with actors of this caliber under the direction (Laura Gordon) of a professional with a vision, you get to experience truly transformative magic. The nightly talk backs that Forward Theater is known for, offers only to enrich that magic. Plan to stay and engage in the discussion after the show.

This is a remarkable show, and a beautiful performance. We in the Madison area, are blessed to have so many great theater options at our disposal. That being said, don't let this one slip away, see it, you'll be glad you did.

Forward Theater pairs Wisconsin stage legends Colleen Madden and James Pickering in Heisenberg in January

Madison, WI - Forward Theater Company will start the new year with a bang by pairing two of Wisconsin's most celebrated Forward Theater pairs Wisconsin stage legends Colleen Madden and James Pickering in Heisenberg in January Madison, WI - Forward Theater Company will start the new year with a bang by pairing two of Wisconsin's most celebrated actors on stage. Colleen Madden (American Players Theater company member) and James Pickering (Milwaukee stage legend) will debut the Wisconsin premiere of Heisenberg, written by Simon Stephens. This magnetic and emotionally-charged play will be presented in the Playhouse at Overture Center, January 17 - February 3, 2019.

A chance encounter between Georgie (flirtatious, mysterious) and Alex (a much older man) starts with a kiss that changes both of their lives. What does Georgie want? And can she be trusted? These two strangers, set adrift by life and loss, embark upon a fascinating game of cat and mouse that changes course with each new revelation. There are many possible lives we can live - but each choice we make alters the journey.

"Heisenberg is all at once vibrant, sensual, unconventional and beguiling," said Director Laura Gordon. "As you tune into the nuances within the work you find something that probes much deeper than the circumstances might suggest. This play considers the delightful existence of alternatives that shape our lives at every turn."

The production features Colleen Madden (Silent Sky, St. Ives, Torture...) and James Pickering (Outside Mullingar). Set and Lighting Design by Jason Fassl, Sound Design and Composer is Joe Cerqua, Costume Design by Shannon Heibler, Props Design by Pam Miles.


Tickets are now on sale. They may be purchased online at, in person at Overture Center's ticket office, or by calling (608) 258-4141.

Previews (first Thursdays): $20 for the general public

Adults Thursdays/Sundays: $38-$43

Adults Fridays/Saturdays: $40-$47 Seniors (62+) Thursdays/Sundays: $33-$39

Seniors (62+) Fridays/Saturdays: $35-$41

Students Thursdays/Sundays: $26-$29

Students Fridays/Saturdays: $28-$31

Student/Educator Night

The production will have one preview performance, Thursday, January 17th at 7:30 pm. For this performance only, $10 tickets are available to high school and college students and educators. Simply ask for the student/educator discount at the box office when purchasing your tickets.

Student Rush

Student Rush tickets will also be available to high school and college students for $15 apiece, one hour prior to each regular performance, at Overture Center's ticket office. Students can buy up to two tickets, and must present a valid student ID.

Pre-Show Talks

FTC will present FREE pre-show talks on the Rotunda Stage, one hour before the curtain time, prior to all Thursday and Sunday performances. These talks will give audiences some additional background on the play, the author, and the production elements that bring the play to life. No tickets or reservations are required.


Heisenberg is generously sponsored by Madison Community Foundation, MG&E, Steve and Jacqui Suleski, Stafford Rosenbaum, Brava Magazine.

About Forward Theater Company

Founded in 2009, FTC creates a home base for Wisconsin theater professionals and audiences that expands the cultural and economic life of the greater Madison area.

For more information, please contact Communications Director Scott Haden, (608) 234-5001,

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From This Author Scott Rawson

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