Mon | Oct 22, 2018

'The Hard Problem' at Palace on Sunday

Published:Friday | May 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Olivia Vinall (left) and Damien Molony star in The Hard Problem.
A scene from National Theatre Live’s The Hard Problem.

"100 minutes of brilliant brainache." - Daily Mail

"Stimulating. Absorbing. A rich, ideas-packed work." - Guardian

The Hard Problem will show on Sunday, May 10, at 11:30 a.m. in the Palace Cineplex and Palace Multiplex cinemas.

Acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love, Arcadia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) returns to the National Theatre with his new play The Hard Problem, directed by Nicholas Hytner (Othello, Hamlet, One Man, Two Guvnors).

In this one-act play, described as brainy, funny, and touching, the hard problem of consciousness is the dilemma faced by the effervescent Hilary. She is a psychology student at Loughborough University who gains a coveted research post at a prestigious brain science institute.

If there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness?

As Hilary grapples to acquire a full understanding, she finds herself in contention with her colleagues Spike (her first mentor), Leo (her boss), and the billionaire founder of the institute, Jerry. Is the day coming when the computer and the MRI scanner will answer all the questions psychology can ask?

Meanwhile, Hilary needs a miracle, and she is prepared to pray for one.

The cast includes Anthony Calf, Hayley Canham, Vera Chok, Jonathan Coy, Rosie Hilal, Daisy Jacob, Damien Molony, Lucy Robinson, Parth Thakerar, Olivia Vinall and Eloise Webb. Design is by Bob Crowley, Mark Henderson is in charge of lighting, and sound is in Paul Arditti's hands.

Sir Tom Stoppard, a Czech-born playwright, began his career in England in 1954 as a journalist, soon moving to London in 1960 to start work as a playwright. His first play, A Walk on the Water (1960), which was televised in 1963, soon reached London with a stage version titled Enter a Free Man (1968).

His subsequent work, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1964-65), showed at the 1966 Edinburgh Festival to rave reviews. It became internationally known in 1967 after it was entered into Britain's National Theatre.

Stoppard's additional work includes the stage plays Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1978), The Real Thing (1982) and Rock 'n' Roll (2006). Over the course of his career, Stoppard has written for radio, television, film and stage. In 1998, he co-wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for the film Shakespeare in Love, which featured the stellar cast of Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Geoffrey Rush, as well as British actor Joseph Fiennes.

The National Theatre Live, NT in London is one of the UK's most prominent publicly funded theatre companies. The theatre presents a varied programme, including Shakespeare and other international classic drama, as well as new plays by contemporary playwrights.

The series continues with Man and Superman; View from the Bridge; Everyman and Hamlet.

Tickets are on sale at the Palace Cineplex and Palace Multiplex box offices and via the web at with a Palace Card.