What happens when you combine quantum physics, the Wombles, an LA valley girl and the live teleportation of an orange?

You get a play called Tangle that raises poignant questions about searching for something or someone that has gone missing.

Devised and performed by Leeds-based Unlimited Theatre, Tangle makes connections between huge ideas from the conceptual edge of science and heartfelt human stories. The result is a dense, multi-layered and funny story surrounding the personal and professional entanglements of four people all searching for someone they have lost.

Set in an underground research facility beneath Wimbledon Common, the play brings together Flora - a flaky Beverly Hills pet-groomer who hires people-finder' Malcolm to track down her long-lost uncle who disappeared in mysterious circumstances - and Jocelyn and Hamish, scientists involved in a research project at the cutting edge of quantum physics. Teleportation of a living entity is their goal, but the fundamental question of whether feelings, memories and emotions are also teleported remain unanswered.

"Their stories become tangled and they all end up in the research facility," says Lucy Ellinson, who plays Flora. "She's your typical valley girl and a bit of a cartoon character. She wants an adventure and falls for the guy hired to look for her uncle. They fly over to London and their paths cross with the scientists - but not necessarily in a logical way. It works a bit like a detective story, the audience is left asking questions.

"It's a witty and moving exploration of ideas about what makes us who we are, and it takes on board the big questions of the ethics of progress. It's been inspiring some great after-performance discussions. We've had groups of scientists coming along who say they've never seen quantum physics in drama before!

"All the characters have someone missing - one of the scientists, Hamish, wants to transport himself in teleportation to try and get over the pain of bereavement. We have either experienced that sense of loss or we can empathise with the fear of losing someone."

So what about the Wombles? Where do they fit in with all this?

"Basically the writers, Clare Duffy, Liz Margree, Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe, had their own starting points - human leadership, conspiracy theories, heroism and the Wombles - an example of working together," says Lucy. "That's why the research centre is set on Wimbledon Common. When I first came to the play I thought How can all these points knit together?' But they do!"

The play has been developed with the help of Professor Vlatko Vedral, head of quantum information science at the University of Leeds.

"The crux of it is what makes an individual human so special? What's the essence of you? And the play looks at the ethical questions of teleportation," says Lucy.

Confused? Well you could always go along just for the fun of seeing an orange being teleported live on stage. "Yes, that really happens," says Lucy. "One of the cast comes out of character to explain what's happening."

A graduate from the University of Leeds, Lucy specialises in devised, experimental performance and burlesque, specialising in large-scale stunts for political campaigns. She recently became an associate artist of Bradford's Theatre in the Mill after taking part in Backing Talent, the theatre's artist development programme, last year, and is a member of London-based theatre company Mapping4D which has a reputation for creating inventive drama.

She recently took part in an initiative called Home-made, performing in people's homes around the country. "People would get together with friends and have some wine and we'd turn up telling improvised tales about their possessions while rifling through drawers and cooking their food - it was terrifying but great fun!" laughs Lucy.

  • Tangle runs at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from November 28 to December 2. There's a free after-show discussion on November 30 and a Q&A session with Professor Vedral and writer/director Jon Spooner on December 2. For tickets ring (0113) 213 7700.