Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51: Pics and review

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Last night I went to see Photograph 51 starring Nicole Kidman at London’s Noel Coward theatre and I would encourage you all to go. Science is rarely put on the stage and it highlights a piece of scientific history I never knew, so I found it fascinating. It’s only in previews still, so I imagine it will be even better when it officially opens.

Kidman stars as Dr. Rosalind Franklin who is offered a research position at King’s College London alongside Maurice Wilkins (Stephen Campbell Moore). It is the 1950s, she is only female scientist there, and she is taking photographs of molecules to discover “the secret to life”. She takes the miraculous Photograph 51 but she doesn’t see its meaning as quickly as rival scientists James Watson (Will Attenborough) and Francis Crick (Edward Bennett), who find the structure/formation of DNA and take the glory alongside Wilkins. The three men received a Nobel Prize for their work in 1962, five years after Franklin died of ovarian cancer.

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It was a really interesting, inspiring play that still resonates today as the subject of equality between the sexes rumbles on. Sexist comments the scientists make about Franklin are exactly what you would still hear now. It makes you mad how little credit Franklin is given because she is a woman. Her personality is also intriguing – she is cold, hard, focused and difficult in social situations – it makes me wonder if she was naturally like that if she became that way trying to prove herself among the men.

Although Kidman has been touted as the star of the show, obviously, because she is a HUGE A-list actress, she never really gets the chance to shine and take the limelight for herself. It feels like an ensemble piece and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed her performance any more or less than the other men. The acting was brilliant from everybody and they really worked as a team. There are a few poignant moments which touched me, especially the ending, but there was no massively dramatic scene where Kidman really got to prove her range. That is, of course, down to Anna Ziegler’s script.

So Kidman gave a very, very good performance but didn’t move me in the way I was expecting. But I think my hopes for her were too high. I enjoyed the staging, the dialogue, the balance of humour and sadness and the accessibility of the science. I also want to praise the play for shedding light on an important piece of scientific history and finally giving Franklin the credit she deserves.

The play officially opens on 14th September.

I managed to catch Kidman outside the theatre last night – click on my thumbnails for more pics.

Comments

  1. I was so disappointed that Nicole didn’t come out of the theatre after I saw a matinee performance back in October. You’ve got some great pictures! 🙂

    • Hannah Wales says:

      Oh no that’s a shame! We had to wait for her for quite a while in the rain but she was lovely and signed more than I expected.

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