Invisible Atom

Anthony Black
Comedy, Drama
Cast Size

At the apex of a suicide jump; at the moment where up is about to become down, time freezes and the normally reliable laws of motion and matter dissolve. The jumper, Atom, begins the play at this “invisible pinprick of time”, suspended in this strange perversion of time and space that places him in front of a group of what he imagines to be the “gods”. He has been granted this time to reflect on his life and explain what brought him to this point. Abandoned at birth, raised in foster homes, Atom calls himself a “success story”. He has managed to get a good business education, a very intelligent girlfriend and a son and until very recently worked at a prestigious stock brokerage firm. He is now unemployed and eventually divulges that he and a co-worker are the only survivors of a recent famous bombing of high profile office tower. This brush with the end of the world throws him into a depression and causes him to question fundamental principles of how the world works. This questioning leads down two thematic roads. One is a questioning of assumptions about market capitalism as the fuel behind human progress, and the other is a questioning of the value of scientific advancement. All of which lead him to question his own life and the value of his own existence. His metaphysical unease causes him to embark on an intense and fantastical search for his identity, running away from home and family into an imaginative journey that leads him to his extraordinarily wealthy and comically cruel father, Zepheniah Adamson, in London, England. Rejected by his father after a brief and fruitless encounter, Atom returns home to his girlfriend and son, but something is different. He can’t define his unease and sinks deeper into his depression, and delusions. He invents an unlikely family history tracing back in time through ten generations of bastards, beginning with the founder of classical physics, Isaac Newton and his bastard son, the moral philosopher and economist Adam Smith, largely credited as the father of capitalism, through generations of bastard bankers, soldiers, monopolists, rapists, and merchants. Atom considers himself the product of ten generations of bastards and bastardized ideals to be the living metaphor for the oncoming destruction of the world: Atom: “What Newton had done for science, Smith did for economics. If Newton was the key-stone of the scientific revolution, it was Smith who built the bridge to the industrial revolution. Then, through the rise of market capitalism, mankind’s ambition was unleashed; and his ability to harness the mechanical forces of the universe was multiplied by the achievements of science. And these multiplications have been coupling with industry which has itself been multiplying exponentially and this… has been the fuel behind our acceleration. Towards the end. When we destroy ourselves. When the laws of nature breakdown. And the physical and emotional forces that dictate the way we live our lives no longer apply.” As he hangs in mid-air off the bridge, he sees himself reflected in the judgement of the gods, realises that by abandoning his own son, he is only repeating a family pattern, and pleads for his life, which he realizes too late was his to own or discard.

Development History

Created with support of a grant from the Province of NS, Invisible Atom’s first iteration occured at the Festival Antigonish late night series. Ongoing rewrites occured during its subsequent mountings.

Production History

Workshop Production at Festival Antigonish, July 2004 directed by Ann-Marie Kerr performed by Anthony Black Developed further and produced by 2b theatre company at: Victoria- Uno Festival (Intrepid Theatre,) June 2005 Toronto- Summerworks Festival (Harbourfront Centre) August, 2006 Halifax- Neptune Studio, March 2006

Publisher / Script Contact
Anthony Black