|introduction||character studies||actor's profiles||cochrane theatre||order a programme||event information|
Beautiful, famous and newly rich. Ophelia is an intriguing mix at turns charming and fragile or abrasive and willfully enigmatic. Deep down Ophelia is at war with the world particularly the world as defined by the English middleclassses - a world exemplified by the characters she creates out of people who believe themselves to be her closest supporters.
Ophelia is an orphan. Her parents were wealthy Irish gentry who were brought low by the twin forces of money and the law. Until the age of four she lived on a farm in county Wicklow.Then as a result of a massive fraud perpetuated by an English lord, her father lost all money and the farm. The family moved to a Dublin slum and creditors pursued the family through the courts. In the end the legal process became too much for her father to bear and he tried to drown the entire the family by throwing them into the sea off Howth. Only Ophelia survived. She was adopted by the legal firm responsible for pressing the case against Opehlia's father, Bella Bello and Belaqua. Ophelia lived in the care of an alocholic priest and was raised in grinding poverty attempting suicide on numerous occasions. Her numerous attempts to run away were thwarted and on one occasion she spent an entire month chained to her bed. From that moment on she decided to submerge her true self beneath a tissue of lies - each more incredible than the last. When we meet her she has erected yet another a false self - the artist - and even though this is her finest creation she struggles to believe in it herself. Yet in this guise she appears extremely tough - forever arrogantly showing a finger to the world- never caring what the world thinks. She is difficult to know, exploitative(she has clearly used Humphrey to political advantage and has had enormous financial support from Mia) and unapproachable. She is extremely suspicious of other people and their motives, difficult to get close to yet there is other side to Ophelia. One which the public never sees.- the brittle, poetic Ophelia who needs love and affection. The two Ophelia's are forever in conflict and it is the private Ophelia that drives her to love Charman. She meets him long before she is famous. Though he is intrigued and excited by Ophelia he makes no attempt to help her career - appears if anything uninterested. The public Ophelia convinces Charman that she is the daughter of an English Lord and he couldn't care less. This she respects and regards him as a soul mate; yet as their off/off relationship progresses the public Ophelia begins to resent her dependence on Charman.
If the need for affection is what drives the private Ophelia what drives the public Ophelia is the need to exact revenge while maintaing her lofty enigmatic position- hence her tendency to answer questions with a laugh or a smile or to slip into curious poetic language laced with phrases from Joyce or from Max Charman's curious world of particle physics. She sets up mysteries and the piece she is planning is styled as revenge but in the end she loses her grip on it and the characters end up scheming to get rid of her. In a similar fashion she loses Charman to B and finds that her lover has become one of her inquisitors. Yet, as ever she has the last laugh(literally) and ends up treating even the inquisition as a joke.
Brilliant, madcap scientist obsessed with the arts particularly poetry - admires Joyce, Lewis Carroll, Whitman, Poe, Mallarme and Baudelaire. He is not a painter. His art dervies from from his belief that the languages (words and equations) of particle physics is of incomparable beauty. Charman has had an on/off relationship with Ophelia since 1988 when they first met in Moscow - she was at that time masquerading as a student of art history who was in the Soviet Union to study formalism.
Charman is an American by birth. He is the spoilt genius only son of a couple of wealthy New Yorkers of Russian descent -the father a stockbroker and his mother a professor of theoretical physics. They had a house in the Hamptons and a villa in Tuscany where the family spent every summer absorbing European culture especially poetry and Florentine painting (Gore Vidal, Bob Dylan, Hockney and Arthur Miller were regular house guests). The child Charman showed an early keeness for games of chance. He was a games prodigy who, at the age of twelve, played chess with International masters including Spasky and Fischer. As a child Charman rarely slept at night, preferring to read philosophy and poetry until the first light of dawn. The adult Charman walks the night away reciting poetry - his own and that of his heroes - an solving complex mathematical puzzles in his head.
A brilliant scholar who shone at all academic subjects and at sport (he was a fearsome baseball and was determined to follow his mother into the world of particle physics. He had an accelerated passage through Harvard and went to do post doc work on chaos theory work at MIT at the age of 20. He pitcher - 'no one can spin like Max can spin' said the College News). However, he was first and foremost a scientist published his first paper a year later on the subject of antimatter to almost universal acclaim in the international physics community. After his post doc at MIT he was expected to take up an academic post but instead chose to work for the government developing an early version of what would later be known as Star Wars. He also became a visiting researcher at CERN. Two years later his mother and father were killed in plane crash and following this Charman's work became increasingly eccentric. He spends many hours flying and observing clouds. He works endlessly and establishes himself as one of the world's most outstanding scientists - the man who (probably) has the solution to the mystery of the Higgs Boson.
The son of leading party officials originally from Stalingrad. A brilliant
child who rarely saw his parents who themselves had been prodigies and who have
risen to positions of considerable power and influence. His mother is a brilliant
physicist who was responsible for planning the development of the Soviet Union's
hidden scientific cities and his father was a trusted deputy to Gromyko for
many years (he was one of the very few officials to escape the purge that followed
the Cuban missile crisis fiasco). When Gromyko was appointed ambassador to the
Court of St James B's whole family travelled to England and B was sent
to Oxford where he began a degree in theoretical physics (taught by the same
Professor Bell that later clashes with Charman) only to swap after a
tedious term' for a degree in political sciences. It was at Oxford that
B first met Humphrey - a momentous meeting that helped B come to terms
his own sexuality as a gay man.
B returns to the Soviet Union with a doctorate in political sciences (following a thesis on superpower political balances). The family acquire an even more splendid lifestyle and B joins the KGB as a 'researcher'. At about this time he begins to acquire his reputation as a mimic. B finds the KGB stifling and dull and quickly leaves to take uip a career as a journalist and writer. No one believes this, everyone (including B's parents who because of their brilliance remain influential even after perestroika) assume he has become an agent, some even say that he has become a KGB assassin.
Like Ophelia and Charman B totters forever on the brink of madness. A promiscuous gay man with a wealth of secrets he constantly refuses to be pinned down or catagorised. His increasingly eccentric behaviour is a matter of considerable personal pride to him. In the company of his fellow Russians he is clearly the brightest and the best; yet in Ophelia and Charman he meets his equals. With Charman though there is something more - love at first sight, destined to be forever unrequited.
printer friendly version