By Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann

    19:45, Tue 26th – Sat 30th October 2004 at ADC Theatre
    Michaelmas Week 3

    What is discovery? Why is it important to be first?

    To celebrate the centenary of the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Foundation decides to award a 'retro-Nobel' for accomplishments preceding the establishment of the prize in 1901. The Nobel Committee decides to recognise the work that launched the Chemical Revolution: the discovery of oxygen.

    Chemists Lavoisier, Priestley and Scheele seem natural choices, but the committee (full of academic rivals, ex-lovers and even an historian) can't seem to agree. While the committee attempt to determine whether they wish to acknowledge the first to experiment, to publish, or to fully understand the work, the candidates themselves join their wives in 1777 Stockholm to promote their work to King Gustav III.

    In Oxygen, authors Carl Djerassi and Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann, both chemists themselves, tackle the ethical issues surrounding priority and discovery, and the question of what it really means to be a scientist.

    There is a series of pre-performance talks to accompany the play - details can be found on


    Antoine Laurent Lavoisier
    Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze Lavoisier
    Joseph Priestley
    Mary Priestley
    Carl Wilhelm Scheele
    Sara Margaretha Pohl
    Bengt Hjalmarsson
    Sune Kallstenius
    Ulf Svanholm
    Ulla Zorn
    Astrid Rosenqvist

    Production Team

    Publicity and Events –
    Technical Director
    Musical Director
    Lighting Technician –
    Stage Manager and Costuming –
    Master Carpenter and Period Reproductions –
    Front of House Manager –
    Lighting Designer