The Perfect Detonator Opening Thursday!

Thursday, October 9, 2014
The Perfect Detonator Opening Thursday!

The Perfect Detonator, Professor Jody McAuliffe's adaptation of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, opens Thursday, November 13 in Sheafer Theater in the Bryan Center.

McAuliffe’s adaptation follows Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, as he reads The Secret Agent. In the process, Conrad’s fictional tale of a 19th century anarchist bomb plot in London intersects with Ted Kaczynski’s real life bomb plots in the United States.

The Secret Agent follows members of an anarchist cell in 1886 London as they plan to bomb a major symbol of science and industrialization at the time, the Greenwich Observatory. "Like the Unabomber, Conrad saw industrial society as at odds with the human heart,” McAuliffe said.

Two post-show discussions will engage members of the Duke community and audience members. On Thursday, November 13, Tim Nichols, an expert on counterterrorism and homeland security and Duke University Executive Director, Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellowship Program, and Fellows from his "National Security Decision-Making" class will discuss the play in the context of domestic terrorism.

On Saturday, November 15, Beth Holmgren, professor and chair of Slavic and Eurasian studies will present "A Brief Intro to Joseph Conrad, a Man Between Empires" followed by a discussion.

Performance and ticket information

The Perfect Detonator

When Ted Kaczynski, aka The Unabomber, reads Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, the fictional world of the novel enters real American life.  Kaczynski’s Montana cabin doubles as the London of 1886, as Conrad’s  “simple tale” about an anarchist plot to blow up the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, unfolds in these United States.  Conrad:  "An explosion is the most lasting thing in the universe."

Read the Duke Chronicle article about this Joseph Conrad adaptation by Theater Chair, Jody McAuliffe.

The Cast:

Ted Kaczynski,Professor; Horse; Great Lady

Stevie; Toodles

Winnie Verloc

Winnie’s Mother; Bomber; Sir Ethelred; Strange Gentleman; Railway Worker


Michaelis; Bomber; Heat; Strange Gentleman; Railway Worker; 2 person mob

Karla Yundt; Vladimir; Bomber; Constable; Strange Gentleman; Railway Worker; 2 person mob

Ossipon; Bomber; Assistant Commissioner; Driver of Deathcab; Strange Gentleman