Don’t be afraid of Tom Stoppard and miss the wonderful revival of Travesties that the Roundabout Theatre Company has brought over from London. Across the pond, director Patrick Marber’s lauded production at the Menier Chocolate Factory got raves and transferred to the West End. The Roundabout has snagged the production, and its star Tom Hollander, for the first revival of Travesties on... Read more
London's acclaimed Menier Chocolate Factory production of Tom Stoppard's Tony Award-winning play Travesties transfers to the Great White Way via a spring 2017 West End engagement at the Apollo Theatre. BAFTA winner and Olivier Award nominee Tom Hollander reprises his performance as Henry Carr in New York in this acclaimed and surprisingly accessible revival.
Tom Stoppard is undoubtedly one of the most intellectual and wittiest playwrights of our time and his plays revel in the use of language and, in the case of Travesties, could be regarded as a love letter to the medium of theatre itself. With elements of the absurd, of vaudeville, limericks, musical numbers and breaking the fourth wall, Travesties is a deliciously highbrow cocktail of theatrical devices that are as likely to raise a smile as they are to wrack your brain.
Our guide through the absurd is Henry Carr - a historical figure who fought in World War I, was wounded, captured, released in a prisoner-of-war exchange in Switzerland and ended up working as Consul in the diplomatic office in Zurich in 1917. In his senior years he recollects (in a number of distorted variations) his time there and his encounters with three other historical figures - novelist James Joyce, who famously wrote Ulysses, the communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, and one of the founding artists of the Dada movement, Tristan Tzara. As the title suggests, the representation of these figures are "travesties" and so too are our narrator's tales, that often bear an uncanny resemblance to the events of Oscar WIlde's The Importance of Being Earnest. There are many themes at play in Stoppard's work and the pace of this piece may have proved overwhelming were it not for the sure direction of Patrick Marber, who somehow channels the complexity of Travesties into an easy-to-swallow, theatrical pill. Take it with a glass of water and be enlightened.
Travesties originally premiered at London's Aldwych Theatre in June 1974. It then transferred to Broadway, opening at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in October 1975 and eventually picking up the Tony Award for "Best Play" and "Best Actor in a Play" (for John Wood) in 1976.
(Photos by Joan Marcus)
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In 1917 Zurich, an artist – Tristan Tzara, a writer – James Joyce, and a revolutionary – Lenin, collide in a kaleidoscopic thrill-ride.