The Hard Problemby Tom Stoppard
“Tom Stoppard’s first play for nine years is typically witty—an intellectually charged piece that delights in the slippery nature of language and pulses with interesting ideas.” —London Evening Standard
Above all don’t use the word good as though it meant
something in evolutionary science.
The Hard Problem is a tour de force, exploring fundamental questions of how we experience the world, as well as telling the moving story of a young woman whose struggle for understanding her own life and the lives of others leads her to question the deeply held beliefs of others around her.
Hilary, a young psychology researcher at the Krohl Institute for Brain Science, is nursing a private sorrow and a troubling question. She and other researchers at the institute are grappling with what science calls the “hard problem”—if there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness? What Hilary discovers puts her fundamentally at odds with her colleagues, who include her first mentor and one-time lover, Spike; her boss, Leo; and the billionaire founder of the institute, Jerry. Hilary needs a miracle, and she is prepared to pray for one.
“Mr. Stoppard is, as always, an adept craftsman . . . [He] has provided food for thought, and not just a tasting menu but a full, footnoted banquet.” —Ben Brantley, New York Times
“With The Hard Problem . . . [Stoppard] has outdone himself . . . A play that nimbly introduces concepts through characters, opens many avenues for thought and argument, and leaves deeper scholarship to anyone who cares to pursue it . . . Amply rewarding.” —Leo Stutzin, Huffington Post
“The English-speaking world’s brainiest playwright.” —Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal
“Displays intact the dramatist’s remarkable ability to synthesize complex knowledge into wittily metaphorical dialogue . . . Demand for this brainy, funny and touching play will long outstrip supply.” —New Statesman (UK)
“Admirably high-minded . . . It succeeds, in my view triumphantly.” —Daily Mail (UK)
“Stimulating . . . absorbing . . . A rich, ideas-packed work . . . offers endless stimulation and represents, like so much of [Stoppard’s] work, a search for absolute values and a belief in the possibility of selfless virtue.” —Guardian (UK)