This clever, light comedy, written in 2000, presents the same basic reality in three different ways in three different acts. Sonia and Henri, a married couple with a small child, are relaxing after putting their recalcitrant son to bed. Suddenly, Ines and Hubert, guests whom they had expected the following evening, arrive for dinner, which, in this emergency, turns out to be "chocolate fingers" and "crisps." Henri is an astrophysicist who has devoted three years to a research project which is about to be published, and Hubert tells him that night that another researcher may have beaten him to the publisher. Hubert, also an astrophysicist, may be able to help Henri professionally.
In each of the three acts, which replay this scenario, one or more characters changes, dramatically affecting the dynamics of the group and the outcome of the evening. In Act I, Sonia is rigid and assertive, while Henri is the opposite, wanting to placate both their screaming son and Hubert, who can help him professionally. In Act II, sexual politics becomes a focus, with Hubert and Sonia agreeing to an assignation, until Hubert's self-promotion and condescension, combined with intemperate remarks by Ines, bring the evening to a disastrous close. In Act III, everyone is more relaxed and is conversing about "unity theory." Both couples are patient with the child upstairs, Henri has more confidence, he is sanguine about the research of the other scientist, and Hubert, while insensitive in his relationships, is not a complete dolt.
As astrophysicists, both Henri and Hubert have been studying "unity theory," a theory connecting the fundamental forces of the universe and explaining interactions, and the author illustrates this visually through the action on stage. Like the four fundamental forces of nature, we have four characters, some weak and some strong, operating independently on some levels while interrelating on others. As we see from the different outcomes in the three acts, minor changes or glitches, even random ones, can affect relationships, future directions, and the whole concept of "unity." The characters are quite different in personality in each of the acts, not really unified as personalities, illustrating dramatically Hubert's observation about the gap between "reality and representation," and between "object and word." Though the conceit is clever, the play stands as a sparkling, light comedy of relationships on its own--familiarity with science is not a prerequisite to its enjoyment. Mary Whipple