The Farnsworth Invention

It isn’t often that I leave after watching an opening-night performance, and have that lingering opening-night-high that fills me after opening a show that I have worked on. But, now I know that the opening night high can be accomplished just by watching a really good performance.

Last night I watched The Farnsworth Invention at the Overture Center Playhouse by the Forward Theater Company. The topic of the show, the invention of the television, isn’t something that I would be very intrigued by in normal, everyday life. But the show pulled me in, and kept me at the edge of my seat. With over  70 characters and a cast of only 13, the show is very fast-pace, which adds a flustered and captivating dimension to the show.

One of the things that really amazed me about the show was the wide spectrum of interests it played to. There is the very scientific jargon about television tubes and chemicals, there is the emotional element of Farnsworth’s attachment to his family, there is the constant tension between corporations about patents and individual ideas—what does it mean to “own” an idea?, and finally the thought-provoking element of alcohol abuse. The play, which may on the surface seem to cover one theme, is actually crowded with hidden and interwoven themes and sub-themes which make watching the show an exercise for your brain. Forward did an amazing job of using everything to convey the show in a very interesting manner. From the beginning of the show to the end, the play is eye candy. There are many technical elements to the show that made my mouth drop in excitement, but I will let you have those moments when you see the show! I don’t want to give anything away!

The play, which premiered on Broadway in 2007, was written by Aaron Sorkin, the same guy who was the lead writer for The West Wing as well as several other television shows and also wrote The Social Network. He’s not one for holding much back, so one feels as if they’re getting the real, grimy story. I felt the same way when I watched The Social Network.

Overall, the play was very well performed and staged. The costumes were delightful and the set was the perfect mix of science and life. I highly recommend seeing the show. To learn more, you can visit

Photo from by Nick Berard

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