Scientific research might be about the search for absolute truth but when it is conducted by humans it can get complicated and ethically messy.
That is one the key messages from Ear to the Edge of Time by Alana Valentine currently playing at the Seymour Centre.
The plot is an ethical minefield. A young female scientist makes a significant discovery while working at an outback observatory, but a more senior male colleague gets wind of what she is up to and completes her research which is then published to wide acclaim.
Is she entitled to be angry, given that she is a junior member of a research team? Was her motivation wrongfully egotistical? Has she been ripped off, or simply made the contribution she was expected and required to make?
Complicating this is the issue of gender in scientific research. Was she gazumped because she is a woman? If she complains will the fact that she is female count against her future career advancement?
While we are seeing these dilemmas play out, another dimension is added through the addition of a poet who has been tasked to collaborate with the researcher to create a cross disciplinary work combining art and science.
The poet has witnessed her fury and anger at being deprived of the prize of announcing the discovery and claiming it solely for herself.
The full story is told in his poem which is to be published by the scientific body which manages the telescope and has funded the research, all leading to a crisis at the book launch.
Alana Valentine’s play keenly illustrates these ethical issues but wisely makes no final judgement. That is left for the audience to discuss and debate afterwards, and in that provoking that debate the production succeeds admirably.
That Sport for Jove has mounted the world premiere of this significant play, and attracted the internationally respected Nadia Tass to direct, speaks volumes for the company’s development and its growing reputation on the Sydney stage.
Sydney is fortunate to have an emerging company producing drama of such quality and Ear to the Edge of Time is a stimulating and rewarding experience.
Ear to the Edge of Time is playing at the Seymour Centre until October 27. Visit the website for tickets and further information.