James Watson and Francis Crick received the Nobel Prize for their model of DNA, but biophysicist Rosalind Franklin, whose research (specifically the X-ray diffraction image that gives this play its name) aided that scientific breakthrough, died in relative obscurity. It sounds like the stuff of good drama, and indeed it is in Anna Ziegler’s “Photograph 51.” Simon Levy directs and Aria Alpert (daughter of Herb Alpert and Lani Hall) stars in the West Coast premiere, which continues at the Fountain Theatre through May 3.
“Photograph 51” comes with a scientific and dramatic stamp of approval. The winner of the 2008 STAGE (Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration) award for Best New Play about Science and Technology, Ziegler’s play was chosen from nearly 150 entries by a panel of judges that included Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner David Auburn; Tony, Olivier, and Obie Award winner John Guare; Nobel Laureate in physics Sir Anthony Leggett; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire; and Nobel Laureate in physics Dr. Douglas Osheroff.
The Fountain Theatre itself is no stranger to prestigious awards. It has won more than 160 for theater excellence, including every major theater award in Los Angeles.
Performances run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $25 (Thursdays and Fridays), $28 (Saturdays and Sundays), $23 for seniors over 62 (Thursdays and Fridays only), $18 for students with ID (Thursdays and Fridays only). Parking is $5.
The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. (at Normandie), Los Angeles 90029, (323) 663-1525, www.FountainTheatre.com.