One of the successes at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and following a sell-out run at London’s trailblazing Arcola theatre, this urgent new play by Michael Mears explores the events surrounding the catastrophic ‘mistake’ that launched our nuclear age.

1942. On a squash court in Chicago a dazzling scientific experiment takes place, which three years later will destroy a city and change the world – forever.

Two actors, one British, one Japanese, enact the compelling stories of a brilliant Hungarian scientist, a daring American pilot and a devoted Japanese daughter, in a fast-moving drama about the dangers that arise when humans dare to unlock the awesome power of nature.


Written by Michael Mears
Performed by Michael Mears and Riko Nakazono

Directed by Rosamunde Hutt

Winner of a Spirit of the Fringe Award Edinburgh 2022.

Shortlisted for the Sit-Up Award Edinburgh 2022

★★★★    ‘The past comes alive – a gripping piece of storytelling.’ (THE TIMES)

★★★★★   ‘I was genuinely blown away by this production. A dramatic treat.’ (UK THEATRE WEB)

★★★★   ‘A powerful examination of humanity in the wake of Hiroshima.’  (THE LIST)

★★★★  ‘Masterful, devastating story-telling.  Director Rosamunde Hutt presents the heart-rending tale with forensic attention and gentle compassion.’ (THE WEE REVIEW)

 ★★★★  ‘An evocative, well-researched and urgently fascinating story’ (THE SCOTSMAN)

★★★★  ‘Mears is brilliant in his lightning-swift changes of costume, accent and persona as he portrays the many men encountered in Szilard’s narrative.’      (SCOTSGAY MAGAZINE)

★★★★  ‘Striking and humane.’  (THE STAGE)

‘An exceptionally high-quality piece of writing. Emiko Ishii is powerful, emotional and delivers a stunningly authentic performance.  Mears offers an authenticity  to the story that makes this must-see theatre. One of the strongest pieces I have seen here at the Fringe.(THEATRE TRAVELS. ORG)


Trailer without subtitles

Trailer with subtitles

Michael Mears – Michael Mears’ has been working as a professional actor for four decades, in theatre, film and television. He has worked for all the major theatre companies, including the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Peter Hall Company, and performed in London’s West End on numerous occasions, most notably for nine months in the long-running hit The Woman In Black.

TV work includes Sharpes Rifles (three series), The Lenny Henry Show (two series),  Parades End, Sanditon and The Crown.

Film work includes Four Weddings and a Funeral, Little Dorrit, The Good Soldier Schwejk and Last Night In Soho.

He has written three solo plays for the stage and seven solo plays for BBC Radio 4, all of which were performed by himself. His 1990’s play about homelessness, SOUP, won a Scotsman Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival.

His recent acclaimed solo play THIS EVIL THING, depicting the struggle of Britain’s WW1 conscientious objectors, was performed by him over 100 times between 2016-2019, in many parts of the UK including at The Bear Pit in 2017.

THE MISTAKE is Michael’s first play for two actors.

‘Michael Mears is that rare combination of fine writer and formidable actor.’ 


Performance Dates
20 September 2023

The Bear Pit Theatre, Rother Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6LU

Running time
80 mins no interval

Coming soon...